Homeowners now accepting bitcoin in latest cryptocurrency trend

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Plugin for AdSense.

Please go to the plugin admin page to
Paste your ad code OR
Suppress this ad slot.

Bitcoin for homes.
Image: bob al-greene/mashable

The bitcoin craze has officially jumped to real estate. 

Despite the risky, volatile nature of cryptocurrency, homes and property across the U.S., Australia, Canada, and beyond are for sale for the unpredictable coin. Even after one bitcoin dropped from $14,000 to $11,000 in value in a matter of days, homeowners are still putting up their homes for some of that flashy money.

It’s not just a few listings here and there. According to Bitcoin Real Estate,  a site that has been tracking the business for several years, the trend is growing more and more and not slowing down.

At the end of 2017 a Miami condo reportedly sold for 17.7 bitcoin and actual cryptocurrency was exchanged between the buyer and seller. Not just bitcoin converted into cash, which is the more popular way to use the coin.

Trulia spokeswoman Andrea McDonald found 80 listings on the site that reference cryptocurrency in some way. Many just note “bitcoin accepted,” but others really get into it.

A property near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California makes that case for paying with cryptocurrency, insisting that the property “can be a nice investment for future at a very reasonable $5,250 per acre for a total of $2.1 million or 124 bitcoins.”

Another home in West Palm Beach, Florida, is open to buyers with bitcoin and ethereum and litecoin, but with the caveat that cryptocurrencies are constantly changing. “Owner financing possible $149,900 USD, 13 bitcoin 375 ethereum, 950 litecoin (crypto price subject to change. Inquire crypto price at time of interest),” the listing says.

So far Trulia hasn’t officially seen a sale go down with the coin, McDonald said, but it’s probably just a matter of time.

Redfin, another online real estate database, has also seen a crypto trend in its listings, especially in hubs like the Bay Area and Miami. The number of listings that accepted cryptocurrency jumped from 75 in December to 134 in mid-January. Some of those 134 listings have sold, but as a Redfin spokesman explained it’s unclear if cryptocurrency was used for all or a portion of the sale price.

Some of the listings are trying so hard to initiate a cryptosale. A Florida home used all caps and asterisks to lure in investors, screaming, “**BITCOIN SALE PREFERRED! Unique opportunity to be one of the first transactions using Bitcoin.**”. Another listing for a property in Washington state, meanwhile, was generous with exclamation points: “Seller willing to accept BITCOIN!!! The new rate of cryptocurrency that [sic] taking the world by storm!” 

Aaron Drucker, a Redfin agent in Miami, said in a phone call that including cryptocurrency in a listing gives a property more exposure. He’s also noticed that bitcoin listings tend to be luxury condos. “Earlier investors in bitcoin have made a lot of money,” he said. “They may want to convert some of that into a tangible asset.”

“I wouldn’t recommend this for first-time home buyers.”

But bitcoin sales aren’t for everyone. “I wouldn’t recommend this for first-time home buyers,” he added. “But if you want to buy a second home, this might be something to consider.” No matter how you look it at, Drucker said, it’s “definitely risky.”

Others are using bitcoin and other coins for their lucrative value. A Redfin agent in San Diego helped a buyer cash out two bitcoin valued then at nearly $7,500 each to cover closing costs for a home in Carlsbad, California. 

Carina Isentaeva, a Redfin agent in San Francisco, is in the center of the crypto-mania. In a call she said it’s all about “crypto homes” now. She had a deal that fell through because the buyer’s ICO flopped. But more surprising to Isentaeva was that the seller was willing to work with a cryptocurrency contingent sale. “You couldn’t imagine this a few years ago,” she said. “Everyone would want to see a bank statement,” not ICO filing paperwork.

Another big issue holding up more sales with actual cryptocurrency is regulation. Just finding an escrow service that will handle a crypto sale instead of traditional cash is difficult. As Isentaeva noted, the technology is moving much faster than government and laws. So the workaround is to convert bitcoin into cash and then buy property. But eventually the tech should catch up and the transaction will be more streamlined — at least that’s what Isentaeva hopes.

But no matter the difficulties, the crypto listings keep coming. Welcome to the neighborhood, bitcoiners.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/22/cryptohomes-real-estate-bitcoin-cryptocurrency/

Why is Bitcoins price down to two-month lows?

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Plugin for AdSense.

Please go to the plugin admin page to
Paste your ad code OR
Suppress this ad slot.

Crypto investors are seeing red this week. Bitcoin plunged to two-month lows on Thursday, dipping below $9,000 for the first time since November. At the time of writing, Bitcoin had bounced back up to the $9,200 level, down from weekly highs just above $12,000. This week has seen coins across the board in the red — a sign that investors are jumping ship to fiat currencies this time instead of swapping into altcoins as we’ve seen in the recent past.

At the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market cap weighed in at $459 billion, down from January highs around $830 billion. It’s a contraction to be sure, but not a low for the last 30 days (that low came on January 18).

Is this the bitter end for Bitcoin? For cryptos? Well, no, probably not. Get your head screwed on right and you’ll see that (for better or worse) many coins have seen unprecedented growth in the last six months to a year, even with Bitcoin’s price halved from holiday highs closer to $20,000. On this day last year, Bitcoin was sitting pretty at $982. At the height of December’s craze, most reasonable crypto-watchers could agree that the price was overheated and there was only one way for it to go in the short term. Still, in the thick of the current correction, Bitcoin’s longer-term growth is anyone’s guess.

Cryptocurrency die-hards expecting the price to bounce back, even partially, will see these tanking numbers as the perfect entry point for getting in low and maximizing gains. Late speculators who got in during the mass crypto hysteria of the holiday season aren’t likely to have such steady hands, a factor that’s likely contributing to the slide.

So what’s causing the slide to begin with? As usual, no one thing can be blamed for Bitcoin’s current downturn, but recent skittishness around a subpoena for Bitfinex and concerns around Tether — a kind of cryptocurrency counterpart to USD that matches the dollar one to one — probably factor in. Recent news that Facebook would ban ads for ICOs probably didn’t help either. And it seems like every day a new Ponzi scheme gets busted, throwing yet more doubt on the credibility of plenty of less than legit ICOs.

Even beyond news cycle highs and lows, Bitcoin has seen a few mid-January dips before, though 2017’s Bitcoin behavior certainly broke from any seasonal patterns of the past.

Still, these growing pains are far from surprising. As cryptocurrencies mature — assuming they continue to do so — regulatory “bad” news will become more common. Countries across the globe will continue to struggle to accommodate their citizens’ sudden interest in digital currencies — or not, in the case of India, which just decided to ban them outright. Unsurprisingly, headlines like these inspire a sense of foreboding among cryptocurrency enthusiasts wondering which country will be next to come down hard. Fear, perhaps justified fear for many speculators with plenty to lose, amplifies each new regulatory revelation. But for cryptocurrencies to grow out of the current scam-laden chaotic era, a thorough house cleaning is healthy.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have also looked less responsive to positive news in the latter half of January compared to their relative buoyancy during December’s dizzying highs. Then, every little positive news blip seemed to push the prices higher.

Bitcoin aside, some altcoins might just be adjusting from overheated, overhyped December highs. Ripple is a good example of this, hovering around $1 Thursday, a price that’s five times its November value and only looks bad after XRP flew a bit too close to the sun with sudden early January highs above $3. Ethereum is also faring pretty well, all things considered, down from all-time highs above $1,400 but holding most of its newly built value after doubling in price from December prices around $500.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens as we move into next week’s Senate Banking Committee hearings on cryptocurrency. Titled “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission,” the open hearings will air on February 6 at 10:00 Eastern time. It’s possible that the upcoming discussion in Congress has traders nervous, but ultimately variables from all over the globe combine to affect the market every day.

For anyone considering riding out the current correction, a little historical perspective — in this case, even a few months’ worth — could go a long way.

Disclosure: The author holds a small position in some cryptocurrencies. Regrettably, it is not enough for a Lambo.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/01/why-is-bitcoins-price-down/

50 Cent used to sell albums for Bitcoin and now he’s rich

Bitcoin millionaire Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent.
Image: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

If you’re looking for 50 Cent you can probably find him in the club, celebrating his new Bitcoin fortune worth over $7 million.

Yeah. Apparently years ago while you were all snoozing on the future cryptocurrency fad, rapper 50 Cent “took a chance” on Bitcoin and started accepting the digital coin as payment for his music.

He essentially forgot all about it, until the recent Bitcoin boom reminded him, and has since realized the move seriously paid off.

The rapper’s unexpected riches were first reported by TMZ on Tuesday, who noted 50 Cent first started accepting Bitcoin as payment after releasing his 2014 album, “Animal Ambition.” 

Back then the currency was valued at around $662 per Bitcoin, so people could buy an album for a teeny tiny fraction of a bitcoin.

“Animal Ambition” reportedly earned around 700 Bitcoin in sales according to TMZ’s sources, which already uh translates to more than $400,000 in 2014 dollars.

In 2018 Bitcoin’s been booming, and the current value of the rapper’s forgotten digital currency is around $7.7 million based on today’s Bitcoin price. Casual. 

50 Cent addressed the news on Instagram, sharing a screenshot from the TMZ article with the caption, “Not Bad for a kid from South Side, I’m so proud of me. LOL #denofthieves”

While Bitcoin’s had a good run the past few months, it’s been crashing recently so 50 might want to make some moves.

Perhaps these valuable life experiences will lead to a future Bitcoin rap album: “Get Rich on Bitcoin, or Die Tryin.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/24/50-cent-bitcoin-millionaire/

A Debate About Bitcoin That Was a Debate About Nothing

James Altucher would like to remind us of the math behind cryptocurrency: Two hundred billion dollars in supply. Two hundred trillion dollars of potential demand, even more if you throw in contract law. There’s 10,000 man-years of science behind it. The investment opportunity is bigger than you think, and trust him, he knows. “More than trading, more than charts, more than, like, investing—I run a hedge fund, I’ve been a day trader, I run a bunch of hedge funds, I’ve seen every trade in the book, I’ve written the book! It’s called Trade Like a Hedge Fund. Don’t buy it, I wrote it in 2004 … I worked with Jim Rogers a long time, he hates it—but, but, what you have to ask is, not these little trading things, but what is going on? Why does bitcoin even exist? Why do cryptocurrencies even exist?” he tells a crowd of around 60 people crammed into a comedy club on New York's Upper West Side1.

I’m in the crowd to watch Altucher, a self-help guru, author, and podcaster, participate in a debate. His pale face, framed by crooked, rimless glasses and topped by a fluffy mop of curls, is instantly recognizable from the banner ads that have stalked me around the web for the last couple of months. Altucher, according to the ads, is the “crypto-genius” who will unveil the next bitcoin. Never mind criticisms that he directs his followers to invest in risky small-cap stocks and cryptocurrencies, leading to a temporary bump in their prices followed by a sell-off. Never mind the complaints from some customers that the newsletters and research papers he hawks via publishing company Agora Financial offer obvious information that’s otherwise freely available online. (Altucher and Agora Financial CEO Doug Hill have disputed these complaints.) Tonight he’s introduced as “the bitcoin baron,” “Mr. Bitcoin,” and even “the bitcoin babe.”

The debate topic—Which is a better investment, gold or bitcoin?—is mostly a farce, since both present opportunities for people eager to make a quick buck. (Tonight, it’s just a room full of New Yorkers, but online the supply of suckers is infinite.) Anything in the world can be twisted into a get-rich-quick scheme with the right buzzwords, charisma, and $2,000 newsletter subscriptions. And no one knows this better than James Altucher.

An ad for James Altucher’s crypto advice.

The crypto-genius enters the stage wearing a shiny blue boxing robe over a baggy cardigan over a baggy button-up over a white T-shirt that says “i’m fine.” He just turned 50 and bought a stake in this very comedy club. He relishes in celebrating his failures and counterintuitive rejections of things like college and 401(k)s. Lately, he’s been all-in on digital currency, an area that’s blazing with hype, greed, breathless speculation, and fear of missing out but is poorly understood by most people. Digital currencies are worth something because people value them as worth something, and Altucher’s endorsement can boost the price of the tiny crypto tokens. In that way, his predictions become self-fulfilling—his saying a token is valuable could actually make it so. For a couple of days, at least.

Agora Financial has used Altucher’s messy hair (geniuses don’t primp!), crooked glasses (geniuses don’t care!), and distant stare (geniuses think complex thoughts!) to market his financial advice via ubiquitous banner ads. Despite looking like a stereotypical geek genius, Altucher possesses something most of them don’t—charm, wit, the ability to entertain, and the ability to sell. Just buy this newsletter subscription, and then this research report, and then this video.

Debate opponent James Rickards, who is also a member of Agora Financial’s network of financial forecasters, dons an appropriately gold boxing robe. He is an equally cartoonish physical embodiment of his investment philosophy with a combover and navy sport coat that screams “your grandfather’s safe investment tip.”

Altucher predicts the price of bitcoin will reach $1 million by 2020. Rickards predicts the price of an ounce of gold will go to $10,000 in the same time frame. “So, who’s right?” the opening speaker asks as a rhetorical lead-in.

“JAMES!” someone yells from the audience, though it’s not clear which James he means. Perhaps he means both—neither prediction necessarily negates the other. Early in the debate the Jameses agree on one point: They hate banks and paper money. Altucher notes that paper money requires working with banks, which have endless fees and potential for human error every step of the way. He adds, “Probably most people in here don’t like banks. That’s why you’re here.”

James Altucher and James Rickards on stage at Stand Up NY with moderator Cheryl Casone, a Fox Business Network anchor.

Erin Griffith

I notice most audience members are sporting an off-duty banker look: Blue-checked button-downs, fleece vests, expensive haircuts, and shiny dress shoes. There are a few shady-looking characters in the back (ahem, neck-tattoo guy). But I see no hoodies, no signs of stereotypical bitcoin bros. Are these (likely) bankers here because they hate the institutions that they (likely) work for? Perhaps they’re just hoping for a hot crypto investment tip. One of them begins taking notes after Altucher name-checks Zcash and Monero, two cryptocurrencies that are well-known among enthusiasts.

The few attendees I meet are either curious lookie-loos trying to learn about bitcoin or fans of one or both Jameses. The fans consider themselves technophiles, even if they don’t work in tech. They’re also investment geeks, even if they don’t work in finance. They’re libertarians, even if they don’t use Reddit. And they’ve bought into bitcoin, even if they don’t actually own that much of it. Bitcoin is now a lifestyle brand and personal identity choice in the same way a Prius signifies environmental awareness or a New Yorker tote shows you’re an aspiring member of the intelligentsia. Getting into crypto shows you support a set of ideals: decentralization, anti-institution, revolution. The social movement is so strong that true believers don’t mind the influx of greed-driven mercenaries in the sector. They don’t even care about the silly stuff like CryptoKitties or Dogecoin, or the ridiculousness of two stock-tip newsletter writers pimping investment ideas in boxing robes. Anything that gets more people involved is a net positive.

Altucher keeps things loose in his opening arguments. We’re in a comedy club, after all. His comedy club. Why not start with a little crowd work? Who here owns bitcoin? Hands fly up, but not every hand, and Altucher zooms in on a woman named Beverly. “So, you’re the only woman in this place who owns a bitcoin. Bitcoin is usually owned by men,” he says, which isn’t true of the bitcoin community, much less of the hands in the air in front of him. He does not seem concerned about the tech industry’s gender disparity or how such comments may perpetuate it.

He puts us at ease by ensuring he won’t get too technical. He’s not here to talk about economics or technology, he says, because “economics is boring, and technology is even more boring.” Buzzwords connect to pat narrative arcs, which connect to punch lines, which connect to applause lines. Everything he says feels Tweetable, except when I go to do so, I realize I’m not exactly sure what it means. Did I miss a word? It certainly sounded good. Altucher delivers a flip explanation of the history of gold as a currency, stating that around 5,000 BC, humans turned gold into coins, which meant gold was no longer a necessary form of currency. By the following year, he says, “it was a rock.”

“It’s a metal, actually,” Rickards quips. Details, details.

The audience laughs when Altucher tells a story about the time he used bitcoin to pay for lap dances at his bachelor party. (At current prices, the bitcoin he used to pay for lap dances would be worth $17 million, so the point is: Don’t worry about volatility.) He gets some laughs noting that the only use for lawyers in the future will be to deal with DUIs. He says his two teenage daughters are “somewhat below average,” adding, “on a scale of zero to 10, [they’re] maybe a three or four in intelligence. And yes, they use digital currencies, but they don’t have the slightest clue about bitcoin. I can explain to them whatever which way, they’re like, ‘Dad, just, we’re too stupid to listen to you.’”

Altucher and Rickards banter over the history of bartering, whether the US government can use cryptocurrency to pay off Afghan warlords, and whether bitcoin mining is a form of the rich stealing from the poor. Rickards jokes that he “needs a net to scoop up all the red herrings” that Altucher released, before declaring bitcoin is a “fraud, a Ponzi, and a bubble all at the same time” and touting 2 billion views on a related Facebook video of his. (Rickards hinted that he is a fan of other cryptocurrencies. Indeed, last week he hawked “the $0.70 crypto that could make you rich in 2018” in a members-only online group called Rickards’ Crypto Profits.)

After the debate, the comedy club’s cofounder shows me a photo of himself with Tracy Morgan, taken at the bar minutes earlier. He tells me that while the rest of us were hitting our two-drink minimums listening to a couple of middle-aged internet personalities promote themselves and their investment tips, Morgan stopped by, saw it wasn’t a normal standup night, and held court at the tiny bar for 30 minutes. Suddenly all the attraction and revulsion and fascination I’ve felt toward the world of cryptocurrencies in recent months makes me dizzy. There’s only one conclusion to draw, and it’s that life is a series of sexist jokes and fake boxing matches, then you die. HODL on for dear life.

Crypto-debate

  • Startups that aren't growing as rapidly as hoped are invoking blockchains to woo attention and investors.
  • Venture-capital firms fear missing out on cryptocurrencies, but many of their partners fear getting in.
  • A Twitter joke by WIRED writer Erin Griffith led to the creation of a browser extension that adds the words "on the blockchain" to the end of every sentence.

1 CORRECTION: This story originally stated that the comedy club that hosted the debate was on New York City's Upper East Side. It is on the Upper West Side.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/a-debate-about-bitcoin-that-was-a-debate-about-nothing/

Bitcoin could change the world by making governments change money

Image: Bob Al Green/Mashable

Russia is working on a government-run cryptocurrency. And they’re not alone. 

Governments around the world — including the U.S., China, Japan, Canada, Venezuela, Estonia, Sweden, and Uruguay — are either actively working on some form of digital currency or exploring the topic. 

But don’t expect a bunch of bitcoin clones. Governments have very different priorities, and decentralization — a main feature of most cryptocurrenices including bitcoin — doesn’t tend to be one of them. In fact, government digital currencies could herald a new era of centralization, posing serious questions about privacy and the viability of true cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. 

There’s important differences between true cryptocurrencies and what are generally called “centralized digital currencies” (CDCs). One of the main qualities — if not the central feature — of cryptocurrencies is that they’re decentralized. This means no single person, government, company, or group can control them. CDCs, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They are as centralized as can be.

That centralization could provide governments with some world-changing capabilities — some good, some rather scary. There’s the upside of giving people a secure and cheap way to buy thing. There’s also serious privacy concerns, especially when talking about authoritarian countries. 

Russia has, in particular, floated some interesting ideas around why it would want to introduce some form of government-led cryptocurrency. Details are scant, and it’s not clear if the “cryptoruble” would be a true cryptocurrency using decentralized ledger technology or if it could be mined. What is clear, however, is that Russia is interested in some sort of digital currency to get around international sanctions and possibly even allow the government to tax its sizable black markets.

“There have been two reactions from central governments. One is to try to figure out how to regulate the darn things, and the other is, do we figure out how to make our own?” said Paul Triolo, head of geotechnology at the Eurasia Group. “2017 was sort of a watershed year in that 2017 saw the regulatory response globally really pick up.”

Why now?

The technology behind digital cash isn’t new in concept of execution. Long before Venmo had become a verb, companies were working toward entirely digital transactions. 

Adoption wasn’t terribly quick or widespread. Nor were the systems that emerged to service digital transactions terribly efficient or cheap. Governments and banks weren’t in any hurry to adopt this tech since nobody else was either.

Then bitcoin happened. The explosion of BTC and other cryptocurrencies have forced governments to take a look at just what these technologies mean for the future of commerce, finance, and centralized authority over the creation and movement of money.

Jacob Eliosoff, founder of cryptocurrency investment fund Calibrated Markets, said governments are now seeing the benefits of this technology but are also going to need time to understand it.

“In principle there could be various benefits: the simple efficiency of instant global electronic transactions, preventing counterfeiting, better record-keeping and monitoring of transactions, no printing press, etc,” Eliosoff wrote in an email. “But also right now some governments, like some companies, are probably just dazzled by the hype and making stuff up so as not to get left behind.”

There’s also some larger conceptual issues at play here. Bitcoin has proven that it’s possible to create money outside of government-based financial systems. Ole Bjerg, an associate professor in at Copenhagen Business School, said this is forcing governments and central banks to ask tough questions about their role in the economies of the future.

“What bitcoin has done is it’s sort of made a lot of people aware that you can actually create money in new ways,” Bjerg said.

By many definitions, digital currencies backed, issued, and tracked by a government or central bank would not be a cryptocurrency. 

“To many of us Bitcoiners, the essence of ‘crypto’ is decentralization: a currency that no person or institution owns or controls, so no one can take it from you or prevent you from sending it, or print it at will,” Eliosoff wrote. “Countries like Denmark have been moving towards cashless societies since before Bitcoin existed, but of course those are still centrally managed currencies. You don’t have to be against fiat per se (I’m not) to see it as fundamentally different from cryptocurrencies.”

To some, the question of what is and isn’t a cryptocurrency is besides the point. The mechanism is just a detail. 

“The main point is you can have digital money which is a liability with a central bank rather than a private bank. Whether you do that with a blockchain or you do it with a database doesn’t make much of a difference,” Bjerg said.

Why should I care?

There’s a very simple reason a government digital currency could be good for you. 

It’ll save you money.

Andrew Levin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College, said digital currencies could cut out middlemen and banks, meaning fewer people taking a cut out of transactions.

“One important reason for trying to move ahead with a central bank digital currency is to create a payment system that is essentially free for consumers and businesses,” Levin said.

If you have a debit card, there’s a good chance it says some combination of MasterCard, Visa, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or any variety of other companies. They’re not providing that service out of the goodness of their hearts. They make money when you use that card.

Under the new system, you’d pay with money directly held by the government (or really a country’s central bank) through what some call a “Centralized Digital Currency,” or CDC.

With a CDC, you’d have a card but it wouldn’t say any of those companies. It would say probably say “U.S. Federal Reserve” — the U.S. central bank. It wouldn’t take any cut, and the U.S. government is much less likely than a bank to go under and take your cash with it.

A CDC, then, is the functional equivalent to using cash, with one big caveat that we’ll get to shortly.

Even the economists are getting excited

There’s a good reason that economists have been getting excited about CDCs. 

Governments control the economy through central banks. In the U.S., that’s the Federal Reserve a.k.a the Fed. The Fed controls the economy through a relatively arcane system in which it tweaks interest rates to control the money supply. It’s a multi-step process that attempts to influence spending and saving behavior by consumers and businesses. But since financial resources are held by private institutions, the ultimate effects of the Fed’s decisions are filtered through these other organizations. 

The major upside of a CDC is that central banks would be able to directly change the interest rates on the currency, meaning it’s incentives for saving and spending would pack a much bigger punch. And not just that, it could easily turn the interest rate negative — something central banks can’t really do now — when it really needed to stimulate growth. 

After the financial crisis and the ensuing global economic slowdown, these measures did not prove terribly effective at stimulating growth. Central banks did what they could, lowering interest rates about as much as they could in order to try to goose their economies. 

Giving central banks the ability to aggressively push the economy through control of a digital currency would make a major difference in peoples’ lives, Levin said.

“This has been a very long slow painful recovery that’s been very painful for lots of normal households. Normal American families have really suffered for the last ten years and part of the reason for that is that the Federal Reserve was constrained,” he said. 

Imagine that the financial crisis was just a speed bump instead of a giant crater that the U.S. (and really the world) is just barely climbing out of. That’s the kind of promise that some economists think CDCs could deliver on.

OK, so what are the downsides?

There’s two main drawbacks here.

The first is that the promise of decentralization isn’t just negated by a central digital currency; a CDC is even more centralized than the existing system. For people who believe that decentralization is a good thing that will free people from dependence on governments and big companies, 

The other main drawback is privacy. Cash is anonymous, giving people a certain amount of freedom to spend money without having to worry about explaining their actions.

A CDC would conceivably remove any and all privacy from your spending (at least as far as hiding it from the government). 

“This sounds glib, but many of us would argue that untraceable transactions are actually an important civil liberty which cryptocurrency enables, but digital fiat impairs,” Eliosoff wrote.

Russia’s nefarious goals for its cryptocurrencies point to how governments around the world could start embracing digital currencies for their own ends both good and bad. Meanwhile, countries like Russia and China — two of the countries most aggressively pursuing their own digital currencies — are the ones cracking down hardest on bitcoin and other distributed currencies.

Cache money

In the near future, not much will change. Governments don’t tend to move quickly. There will be any number of tests to see how this could work, as some countries have done with ideas like a minimum basic income

They could, however, be forced to adapt if cryptocurrencies begin to offer a real, viable alternative to the existing financial system. There’s plenty of blockchain enthusiasts who believe that’s just a matter of time, though it could be a while.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/08/cryptocurrency-bitcoin-governments/

Bitcoin Fall Extends to 25% as Fears of Crypto Crackdown Linger

January’s cryptocurrency selloff got fresh impetus on Tuesday when Bitcoin slumped as much as 25 percent, as the prospect of regulatory crackdowns appeared to spread.

While the largest digital coin was down 25 percent at $10,338 as of 4:37 p.m. in New York, it was still at the lowest level since early December, according to composite pricing on Bloomberg. As Bitcoin halted its two-day rally, rival cryptocurrencies also tumbled. Ripple sank as much as 40 percent and Ethereum dropped 26 percent.

Speculators across the globe are struggling to determine when or how market watchdogs may rein in an industry that’s decentralized and derives much of its value from anonymous ownership. Many assertions that digital coins represent a bubble have triggered double-digit selloffs over the past year, only to be followed by rebounds.

In South Korea, shutting down cryptocurrency exchanges is still an option, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in an interview with TBS radio. But measures first need “serious” discussion among ministries, Kim added, holding out hope for traders that a crackdown won’t go that far. Kim said there’s irrational speculation and that rational regulation was
needed.

“The finance minister made it clear they’re definitely considering banning crypto trading — and it’s probably the third-largest market,” said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst in London for online trading platform ETX Capital. “The news is hitting prices and broader sentiment, and it follows China’s move to shutter mines.”

China, which first began targeting the industry last year, is escalating its clampdown on cryptocurrency trading, particularly online platforms and mobile apps that offer exchange-like services, according to people familiar with the matter.

How China’s Stifling Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies: QuickTake Q&A

“We’ve heard reports that South Korea, China and Japan have considered a shared approach, a path, to regulation,” ETX’s Wilson said, also citing a challenge to digital coins from a bill in the U.S Senate. “It looks like the light touch that has allowed the crypto-boom to explode may be coming to an end,” he wrote in a note to investors.

Lower-than-normal trading in Korea and Japan may have exaggerated the moves in Asia hours on Tuesday, said Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst for the eToro currency platform.

Bitcoin trading using the Korean won was about 3.3 percent of the total among major currencies, compared with more than 10 percent reached on several days over the past two weeks, according to cryptocompare.com data.

Steven Maijoor, chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority, said investors “should be prepared to lose all their money” in Bitcoin, in a Bloomberg TV interview in Hong Kong. “It has an extremely volatile value, which undermines its use as a currency,” he said. “It’s also not broadly accepted.”

For more on cryptocurrencies, check out the podcast:

The ESMA warned retail investors against initial coin offerings in November and is monitoring developments in cryptocurrencies, Maijoor said.

    Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/cryptocurrencies-resume-slide-as-bitcoin-tumbles-to-december-low

    Did Bitcoin Just Burst? How It Compares to History’s Big Bubbles

    Bitcoin’s recent wobbles have given fresh urgency to a question that’s gripped market observers for much of the past year: Will the cryptocurrency go down as one of history’s most infamous bubbles, alongside tulipmania and the dot-com craze?

    The magnitude of Bitcoin’s boom (before it lost as much as 50 percent from its Dec. 18 high) suggests investors have reason to be worried.

    As the chart shows, the cryptocurrency’s nearly 60-fold increase during the past three years was truly extraordinary.

    It dwarfed the Nasdaq Composite Index’s gain during the headiest days of the 1990s. Going further back, it comfortably outstripped the Mississippi and South Sea bubbles of the 1700s. It even topped the Dutch tulipmania of the 1630s, though that last comparison should be taken with a grain of salt given the scarcity of recorded tulip values. (The chart includes prices for just one varietal; consistent post-peak figures were unavailable.)

    Bulls say that Bitcoin’s boom is far from over, and that there’s more to analyzing a market than just measuring price gains. While the recent tumble has alarmed some investors, the cryptocurrency has bounced back from several previous swoons exceeding 50 percent. If Bitcoin did become a widely-accepted form of digital gold, as predicted by Cameron Winklevoss of Facebook fame, it could have a lot further to surge.

    Read more: Crypto Hedge Funds Soar More Than 1,000% Amid Bubble Debate

    There’s also more than one way to slice a rally. On an annualized basis, Bitcoin’s three-year rise has been slower than the gains seen during several of history’s biggest manias — most notably the Mississippi and South Sea bubbles.

    Still, skeptics abound. Howard Wang of New York-based Convoy Investments LLC and Jeremy Grantham of GMO LLC have analyzed Bitcoin’s advance relative to past frenzies and concluded that it’s unsustainable. Grantham, who helps oversee about $74 billion as GMO’s chief investment strategist, summed up his concerns in a Jan. 3 letter to investors:

    “Having no clear fundamental value and largely unregulated markets, coupled with a storyline conducive to delusions of grandeur, makes this more than anything we can find in the history books the very essence of a bubble,” he wrote.

    The strategist has a mixed record of success with such warnings. While Grantham was correct to call the 1990s surge in tech stocks a bubble, he exited too soon and missed out of some of the market’s biggest gains.

    Only time will tell whether Grantham and other bears are right, wrong, or just too early when it comes to Bitcoin.

    For more on cryptocurrencies, check out the podcast:

    For a menu of cryptocurrencies on Bloomberg: VCCY
    For bitcoin prices: XBT Curncy

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-17/did-bitcoin-just-burst-how-it-compares-to-history-s-big-bubbles

      Bitcoin Finds Floor After Worst Selloff Since 2015

      Bitcoin rebounded on Saturday along with most of the major cryptocurrencies, halting a four-day tumble that drew worldwide attention to the unregulated $500 billion market that’s frequently called a bubble.

      The double-digit bounceback was strongest with second-tier digital coins. Bitcoin cash soared 21 percent and litecoin gained 12 percent as cryptocurrency traders regained optimism. They weren’t put off by comments published Saturday from a central banker in Germany that “the risk of rapid losses” is obscured in cryptocurrencies.

      “The enthusiasm hasn’t been destroyed,” Marc Ostwald, global strategist at London-based ADM Investor Services International, said by phone from Warsaw. “It’s a volatile market, and investors are hungry for that. They say everything else is boring.”

      The broad recovery on Saturday coincided with a pause in bearish news that had snowballed since Monday and shaved 24 percent off bitcoin’s value, its biggest four-day selloff since 2015. Comments by central bankers, a decision by litecoin’s founder to sell all his holdings and investors’ wishes to cut stakes before the holiday season fueled the plunge.

      “With holidays approaching, some people want to step away from the table, and take their chips with them,” Ostwald said about the selloff. “Still, I wouldn’t want to put it down too much to rationality, because this is not a rational market.”

      While bitcoin wasn’t the most volatile crypocurrency in the past week, it’s the largest, and it shook the world of digital-coin trading on Friday when its interday plunge reached 30 percent. That was the steepest dive since Jan. 14, 2015, back when its market value was just $2.4 billion. On Saturday it was about $260 billion.

      Bitcoin advanced 10 percent to $15,530 at 4:21 p.m. New York time on Saturday, compared with 24 hours earlier, according to data on coinmarketcap.com.

      In a late-week comment that undercut confidence, Michael Novogratz, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Fortress Investment Group LLC macro trader, said he’s shelving plans to start a cryptocurrency hedge fund. He predicted that bitcoin may extend its plunge to $8,000. Earlier this month he predicted it could reach $40,000 within a few months.

      For a look at whether Goldman is building a cryptocurrency trading desk, click here.

      Growing pains in the digital-coin world and warnings emerged all week, adding to volatility.

      Coinbase, one of the larger trading platforms, on Friday said all buys and sells were temporarily unavailable before they were re-enabled, according to its website. There were no incidents reported Saturday.

      In South Korea, Yapian, the owner of bitcoin exchange Youbit, said Tuesday it would close and enter bankruptcy proceedings after a cyberattack that claimed 17 percent of its total assets.

      ‘Bitter Losers’

      There’s been a string of warnings by regulators for investors in digital coins.

      “We are seeing a rapid rise in value, which hides the risk of rapid losses,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said in a Euro am Sonntag report. He said there is a wide debate going on about the use of digital central-bank money in a closed system, but that he doesn’t currently expect it’s introduction.

      Felix Hufeld, president of German banking supervisor BaFin, advised consumers that trading in bitcoin would produce “bitter losers” and could result in a “total loss,” in an interview with German newspaper Bild.

      EU Warning

      That echoed comments three days ago by the European Union’s financial-services chief, Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, who asked the heads of the EU’s three financial supervisors to update their warnings to consumers “as a matter of urgency” in light of recent market developments, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg.

      In past years, central banks and the commercial lenders they oversee have made strides to curb money-laundering through greater transparency rules, only to see anonymous transactions explode in the nascent cryptocurrency industry — under names like Verge and Zcash. Their admonishments this month haven’t stopped double-digit rebounds.

      “Huge rises and sudden, spectacular setbacks wouldn’t surprise me going forward,” ADM’s Ostwald said. “The worry is going to be, at some point, the pips are going to start squeaking. Retail investors losing money will ask, ‘Why aren’t you intervening to help me? And the answer is going to be, ‘Well, this is a casino. On your head, be it.’ ”

      For related news and information:
      XBT Curncy GP <GO>
      VCCY <GO> for a cryptocurrency monitor

        Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-23/bitcoin-climbs-finding-floor-after-worst-selloff-since-2015

        Ethereum and Ripple reach new all-time highs while Bitcoin stagnates

        Image: shutterstock

        Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

        It’s another green day in the world of cryptocurrencies, with all of the ten largest coins rising significantly in value in the last 24 hours. However, this time it’s not Bitcoin that’s leading the charge. 

        Yes, Bitcoin’s price rose to $14,043 — a 4.99% increase in the last 24 hours — bringing the most popular cryptocurrency’s market cap to $235.6 billion. But it’s still a long way from Bitcoin’s all time high of $19,962 in December. 

        But all of the other major cryptocoins rose far more than Bitcoin. Ripple, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, rose 11.48% to a new record of $2.47. Ethereum, which is in third place, rose 16.97%, to $889.77 — another all-time high. And Stellar, which is currently in eighth place by market cap, grew a whopping 36.03%, which brought its price to a record high of $665. 

        All in all, the market cap of the entire cryptospace is currently at a record $654.2 billion, an impressive feat considering Bitcoin has lost thirty percent of its value in the last couple of weeks. 

        There’s no significant news to which we can attribute this recent growth. Ripple, which had recently overtaken Ethereum as the second-largest cryptocoin, has been growing like a weed for a while now without any major developments. As for Ethereum, it likely benefitted from the launch of a test network for Casper, a significant upgrade for Ethereum which is currently in alpha stage. 

        While it historically wasn’t very smart to bet against Bitcoin, it looks like it’s time for all the other cryptocurrencies to shine. Bitcoin dominance as measured by CoinMarketCap — the percentage of Bitcoin’s market cap compared to the market cap of all other cryptocoins — is at a historic low of 36%.

        It’s possible that the hoards of investors who recently entered the crypto space (popular exchange Coinbase has grown its user base by millions in the last couple of months) are now diversifying into coins that aren’t Bitcoin. It’s also possible that Bitcoin’s largely stagnant development — in contrast to the extremely busy roadmaps from most of its competitors — is driving investors away. On the flip side, it’s not unimaginable that Bitcoin is just taking a little break before it explodes again.

        Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/02/ripple-ethereum-records/

        Bitcoin Lost Almost 20% of Its Value This Week

        Bitcoin faced one of its biggest tests this week, losing almost 20 percent of its value after the world’s largest cryptocurrency reached a record high Monday.

        The digital currency plunged as much as 30 percent on Friday, before paring losses, as this week’s selloff extended to a fourth day. The weekly decline is the biggest in almost three years. Other cryptocurrencies also tumbled: ethereum dropped as much as 36 percent and litecoin slumped as much as 43 percent, according to composite prices on Bloomberg.

        Michael Novogratz, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Fortress Investment Group LLC macro trader, said he’s shelving plans to start a cryptocurrency hedge fund and predicted that bitcoin may extend its plunge to $8,000.

        “We didn’t like market conditions and we wanted to re-evaluate what we’re doing," Novogratz said in a phone interview. He predicted last week that bitcoin could reach $40,000 within a few months.

        Bitcoin dropped to as low as $10,776, before recovering to $14,303 at 4:04 p.m. in New York. It last traded below $10,000 on Dec. 1, when the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission agreed to allow trading in bitcoin futures. The price of the digital coin had more than doubled in the prior three weeks.

        The losses represent a major test for the cryptocurrency industry and the blockchain technology that underpins it, which have rapidly entered the mainstream in recent weeks. Bears cast doubt on the value of the virtual assets, with UBS Group AG this week calling bitcoin the “biggest speculative bubble in history.” Bulls argue the technology is a game changer for the world of investment and finance. Both will be closely watching the outcome of the current selloff.

        “The sharks are beginning to circle here, and the futures markets may give them a venue to strike,” said Ross Norman, chief executive officer of London-based bullion dealer Sharps Pixley Ltd., which offers gold in exchange for bitcoin. “Bitcoin’s been heavily driven by retail investors, but there’ll be some aggressive funds looking for the right opportunity to hammer this thing lower.”

        Traders who bought the currency on futures exchanges using collateral may start facing margin calls following the price decline. Two venues launched products in recent weeks that required hefty security, with Cboe needing 44 percent to clear contracts, and the CME 47 percent. Brokers set safety nets even higher.

        Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, said all buying and selling was temporarily disabled during today’s rout, after having delays in processing wire transfers and verifying new customers for the past week due to higher traffic. Bitcoin transaction volume jumped more than 30 percent on Coinbase’s GDAX exchange, while fees to approve and record the transactions on the blockchain surged to a record $55, according to Bit Info Charts.

        Many of the recent news stories and market moves connected to cryptocurrencies appear to carry hallmarks of the mania phase of a bubble. Long Island Iced Tea Corp. shares rose as much as 289 percent on Thursday after the unprofitable Hicksville, New York-based company rebranded itself Long Blockchain Corp. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Thursday bitcoin isn’t functioning like a normal means of payment and is being used for speculation.

        Still, cryptocurrencies are attracting established players. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is setting up a trading desk to make markets in digital currencies such as bitcoin, according to people with knowledge of the strategy. The bank aims to get the business running by the end of June, if not earlier, two of the people said.

        For related news and information:
        XBT Curncy GP for bitcoin
        VCCY for a cryptocurrency monitor

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-22/bitcoin-plummets-toward-13-000-down-more-than-30-from-record