Consensys Launches Online Blockchain Course

This post was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/consensys-launches-online-blockchain-course

ConsenSys, one of the biggest blockchain startups for decentralized operations, has launched an online blockchain course on Coursera, a popular online learning platform.

According to the press release by Coursera, the platform will team up with ConsenSys to offer a foundational course that introduces students to the basics of blockchain technology.

The statement reads: “Like AI, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize all types of sectors, but most of us are still unfamiliar with the technology, how it might impact our daily lives and the benefits that come with it. That’s why we’re excited to team up with ConsenSys, the leading venture production studio building decentralized applications and tools for the Ethereum platform, to launch Blockchain: Foundations And Use Cases.”

Coursera also added that the course is tailored to curious individuals who hope to impact the world by identifying and solving real problems with blockchain technology.

“This foundational course is designed to give anyone in the world—curious individuals and professionals alike—an introduction to this increasingly popular next-generation technology. Course learners will get the knowledge and skills they need to understand blockchain’s impact on the world and identify problems to solve using blockchain in their domain of expertise.”

The rising popularity of blockchain has seen it gradually become a staple presence in the financial industry. While it may seem mainly suited for that industry, others have come up with creative ways to apply it as well. There have been enterprise applications of this emerging technology in several industries such as gambling, shipping, art, and even real estate. It has been chosen continuously for its benefits that include security, privacy, individual financial autonomy, speed of transactions and general efficiency.

This adoption has led to the emergence of new corporations and partnerships between larger ones. From companies like Amazon to IBM and Mastercard, the race towards widespread adoption of blockchain technology is gradually picking up the pace. Now, there is a global shift in focus towards blockchain education. While blockchain developments are ongoing, the industry faces a huge problem.

Since it is a relatively new field, there is still a talent gap that needs to be filled. Blockchain-related jobs are currently the second fastest growing jobs in the US labor market. As much as there are jobs available, there are people willing to fill those positions. Unfortunately, while people may have a general interest in entering the field, a lot of them do not have the skills necessary to be blockchain professionals.

Arming people with the skills to push the industry in the right direction is a crucial factor in whether or not blockchain will be successfully absorbed in society. Various countries and educational institutions have already set the bar rolling in favor of providing blockchain education to interested people. In fact, Coinbase recently concluded a study which shows that 42% of the top 50 universities in the world have at least one class concerning cryptocurrencies or blockchain.

Prominent universities like Duke and Stanford recently added new blockchain-related courses and programs to their curricula. Turkey also recently commissioned a blockchain research center and the University of Malta has created a generous blockchain scholarship fund for prospective students. London school of economics is also giving its students the opportunity to learn the technicalities of this emerging technology and others that relate to it. However, more effort is needed, especially from the companies that continue to experience blockchain problems first-hand, in order to educate people on them. ConsenSys falls directly into this category.

WHAT IS CONSENSYS?

ConsenSys is a blockchain corporation founded on the principle of decentralization, which focuses on creating global enterprise solutions using blockchain. The company prides itself as a global formation of technologists and entrepreneurs who are committed to developing infrastructure, blockchain applications, and practices for the promotion of a decentralized world. ConsenSys has quickly become a formidable presence in the industry with its recent partnerships, especially with Amazon.  

Since 2014, it has worked to change the way Ethereum is applied to businesses on a global scale in terms of aiding their operations by making their systems more efficient. This effort was crowned by the company’s release of Ethereum Blockchain As-A-Service (E Baas) in 2015. The service, which used Azure, a Microsoft cloud-powered service, was an early attempt to combine blockchain and business practices in a way that benefits all stakeholders. It included tools that would help them refine their business practices and make them more appealing to their customers.

In September 2018, ConsenSys began a social impact program designed to create blockchain-based solutions for humanitarian issues all over the world. To achieve this, the firm partnered with MakerDAO, a decentralized platform, and optiMize a social impact platform. Together, they launched a new Blockchain for Social Impact Incubator at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The university-sponsored program is the first of its kind.

ConsenSys is also ensuring that students who take part in its social impact course receive potential funding, mentorship and guidance from seasoned blockchain advisors. The aim is to give them a nudge towards building blockchain-based initiatives for improving social good.

WHAT IS COURSERA?

As one of the most popular online learning platforms in the world, Coursera provides people with access to courses in various fields that would otherwise have been inaccessible. By allowing students in different countries learn new skills without being physically present, the platform promotes affordable learning. Most courses are completely free and will only charge a payment for a verified certificate.

All courses on the platform are taught by expert instructors from the best universities and educational institutions globally. They are organized to give students access to videos and other learning materials that substitute for a classroom. Schools like Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan, UC San Diego and Stanford have active courses on the platform and now, ConsenSys has joined the fold.

The new ConsenSys course entitled “Blockchain: Foundations and Use Cases,” has the following unique features:

  • No prerequisites since the course is designed for beginners who simply want to learn about the basic concepts in blockchain technology.
  • Well-crafted courses created by employees of ConsenSys who have dealt with real-world blockchain applications and are in the best position to teach others about them.
  • A highly engaging hands-on approach to learning, so that learners will get the chance to apply their acquired skills to the real world.
  • Topics and learning objectives centered around decentralization as well as cryptography and consensus mechanisms.
  • The ability to learn anywhere at any time, with no location barriers.
  • A certificate from ConsenSys Academy upon completion of the course.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The promotion of blockchain education is vital for the sustenance of the industry in the long-run. For development to pick up the pace, there must be people who can lead the charge and work on innovative ways to integrate the technology with pre-existing infrastructure. While a lot of tech fields allow their professionals to learn on the job, the technicality of blockchain may be better learned within an organized structure.

However, not everyone may be able to afford these courses which are the most expensive due to the high demand for them. This is why the course by ConsenSys is important. It not only gives students the opportunity to learn directly from top professionals but allows them to do so with as little as an internet connection. ConsenSys has been involved in the development of notable blockchain solutions on the Ethereum platform for a long time. This lends the firm a good amount of credibility as a source of knowledge that can be passed down.

This post was originally published by Mintdice at https://www.mintdice.com/blog/consensys-launches-online-blockchain-course

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Blockchain Startups to Watch in 2019

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/blockchain-startups-to-watch-in-2019

In 2018, the blockchain landscape was a mix of negative and positive events that were in equal parts hectic, eye-opening and indicative of future developments within the digital currency industry.

From the beginning of the year, corporations, venture capitalists, investors, and regulators were locked in a mash of uncertainty. While some would take the year in all its gore and glory as a learning experience, others may have had a much bumpier ride. Some of the events that marked the year are discussed below.

  • January saw Bitcoin, the largest asset underpinned by blockchain technology, see a rapid decline from its December peak prices, which a good number of investors bought into. Other cryptocurrencies followed soon after. Despite several predictions from industry experts, the end of the year has shown just how unpredictable the terrain can be.
  • Ethereum, which began the year as the second-largest digital asset by market capitalization, has also had a bumpy year. First, it began its decline early in the year and worsened in the second quarter, eventually relinquishing its rank to Ripple (XRP). Despite the issues faced by the currency, analysts remain bullish and predict a possible trend reversal in 2019.
  • Regarding regulation, several countries including Korea, Singapore, and Switzerland have made various moves that may materialize in 2019. The US and China cryptocurrency scene have also focused heavily on cryptocurrency regulation by cracking down on illegal exchanges, ICOs, and other money laundering schemes. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has called for stricter laws which trickle down into other areas including the denial of a Bitcoin ETF proposed by the Winklevoss twins.
  • Global blockchain innovation has not slowed down in the face of these issues. Several top corporations, including MastercardWalmartAmazonIBM and financial institutions like J.P.Morgan, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have pioneered one or more blockchain projects this year.
  • Countries such as Switzerland and India have established blockchain districts or hubs. And, education within the field has been established in several major universities such as Stanford, Duke, Johns Hopkins, London School of Economics and University of Malta among others.

Several blockchain startups have also emerged in various industries with solutions to some of the biggest problems — from Bitpesa dealing with payment issues to VeChain assisting China in drug tracking. Shipping and supply chain management, data and content distribution, real estate, entertainment, art, and voting are other areas that blockchain startups have emerged in.

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While a lot of these companies are great, some show the potential to achieve great things and hit new milestones in 2019. Here are the blockchain startups to watch in 2019:

QTUM

Qtum is a decentralized open-source platform which focuses on the creation and management of smart contracts for different types of transactions. The platform also carries out value transfer protocol on its DGP-governed blockchain which gives its community participants the right to vote on certain network issues.

Bitcoin and Ethereum — being two of the oldest cryptocurrencies in existence — are often in the spotlight for the consensus protocols that form their blockchain operations. Unfortunately, the news is mostly negative since both networks have faced centralization issues for their Proof-of-Work protocols. Qtum uses a Proof-of-Stake consensus, which has fewer drawbacks.

With Qtum, users can easily create their secure smart contracts. This is highly significant since it focuses on something that may form the base operation for future decentralized applications and agreements.

TRON

Easily one of the most popular blockchain startups, TRON focuses on fixing content distribution issues faced by creators. Larger platforms like Facebook and Netflix make it more difficult for creators to earn money for their work without facing third-party involvement.

The TRON platform rewards users for content uploads and connects them with their target audience using blockchain technology. Creators who are well compensated for their work are incentivized to create more. This sustains the ecosystem indefinitely.

AELF

Aelf is a “customizable operating system” made to cater to blockchains since most decentralized applications are incompatible with major operating systems like Mac, Windows, and Linux. The blockchains that currently house these applications also have scalability issues, inefficient smart contract creation processes, and drawbacks with their consensus protocols.

Aelf solves every one of these problems by creating a scalable blockchain and decentralized cloud-based computing network. According to the company website, it aims to make blockchains more accessible and workable to users.

VERIDIUM

One industry that is being disrupted positively by blockchain is that of environmental sustainability. Since the arguments on climate change began, reducing the earth’s carbon footprint has become a priority for individuals and companies.  

Veridium is an environmental blockchain company that offers sustainable solutions for Fortune 500 companies. By reducing carbon emission, the company aims to “create a regenerative economy that sustains the planet’s natural resources.”

Veridium is highly important because it finds a way to turn carbon emissions into a tradable asset. With partners like IBM, this blockchain startup is set to create a marketplace for the automation of the entire process across global supply chains.

CASPIAN

Asset management involves the use of several tools to gain insights into investor and market behavior, as well as place products in ways that they can be seen by their target market. As the industry has grown, using more complex tools to achieve this has become a necessity.

Caspian is an asset management platform that charts the entire lifecycle of asset trade. It has an OEMS, PMS, and RMS and a single interface into all major cryptocurrency exchanges. It also provides a complete suite of complex trading algorithms, real-time and historical P&L, as well as tools for tracking exposure

DEVERY

Devery is an open-source blockchain protocol for verifying goods and services. It stores their unique identifiers on an immutable blockchain, giving users complete transparency. The firm provides the following:

  • A digital immutable record of product data which can be used to identify different products globally
  • Individual product authenticity tracking which allows users to view the history of each product
  • An increase in sales and engagement due to product transparency which builds trust in the system

MEDIBLOC

The inadequacies and information gaps within the health industry make it ripe for blockchain intervention. Leading the charge is Medibloc, a project that seeks to solve the issues associated with centralized electronic health record data storage by giving users more power over their data.

Medibloc breaks down health information into batches which are redistributed to individuals. The project aims to:

  • Save patients’ time and resources
  • Provide quality healthcare
  • Reduce medical error made by healthcare providers due to insufficient information
  • Promote further innovation within the industry

CARDSTACK

Recognized by Forbes as one of the blockchain startups to watch, Cardstack is a framework that promotes blockchain usability and scalability for the mass market. Blockchain applications are as unique as they come, and their interoperability is a constant challenge for developers.

Some applications of these networks may require collaboration between blockchains — which is unfortunately difficult. This is where Cardstack comes in, acting as a bridge between such systems. Development in 2019 may take a different turn and show even more usability for blockchain. This is why this project is so significant.

CEEK

Virtual reality (VR) is another emerging technology that has been integrated into several industries like gaming and health. However, some projects make things a little more interesting by powering VR systems with blockchain-based currencies.

One such project is CEEK, a company that uses blockchain and cryptocurrency tokens to enhance user interaction in VR. Not only is this project exciting, but it is also fresh and joins two cohesive elements to make an even better application.

FINAL THOUGHTS

2018 has been a great year in blockchain, one in which developers have been forced to re-evaluate their applications outside the slowly dying hype train of cryptocurrency. While several projects have flopped, a lot of them are still standing, growing and strategizing for the coming year. In the end, the success of these companies translates to success for users and global industries as a whole.

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/blockchain-startups-to-watch-in-2019

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How to Choose a Bitcoin IRA

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/how-to-choose-a-bitcoin-ira

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are gradually finding new applications as virtual currencies become more advanced. Finance is the most apparent application of these technologies, and many of its processes are becoming more efficient as a result of their implementation.

For example, Bitcoin makes it easier to send money to anyone with a wallet without encountering currency conversion charges and transaction issues. Ripple is also making it easier for people in countries with less-developed banking systems to send money across borders.

There are Bitcoin lending services, exchange-traded funds, and daily trade operations using these digital currencies. As they continue to branch out and become deeply ingrained in the financial sector, their chances of long-term survival also increase.

In addition to the applications listed above, Bitcoin is making waves where individual retirement accounts also known as IRAs are concerned. An IRA is an account that an individual can use to save up money for retirement. It can be opened at several financial institutions and has many advantages.

The most obvious advantage is the availability of funds long after an individual has stopped working. Another major advantage is that the taxes on such accounts are low, allowing people to save more. IRA holders are also exposed to more investment options than other types of retirement accounts such as the 401K. These options include stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and CDs. Account holders can also claim their contributions as tax deductions.

There are many different types of IRAs, including traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and rollover IRA, and each one has its pros and cons. However, they all have general issues that cryptocurrency seeks to address. Traditional IRAs are simple accounts that anyone can open and accumulate funds in. Rollover IRAs are accounts filled with contributions that rollover from a qualified retirement plan and Roth IRAs are tax-free accounts in which users deposit post-tax money. But they all have one little problem: Their investment options don’t offer the type of investment gains that a bitcoin IRA does.

What is a Bitcoin IRA?

A Bitcoin IRA is an account set up to store cryptocurrency contributions for retirement. Most IRAs are not set up to accept cryptocurrencies, so one of the easiest ways to set up a Bitcoin IRA is by setting up a self-directed one. This is an account that offers unconventional investment options such as real estateart, precious metals, and more recently, cryptocurrency. Individuals could hold separate accounts with other investments while holding a self-directed account with cryptocurrencies.

What are the advantages of a Bitcoin IRA?

  • Self-directed IRAs have high potential tax savings with a capital gains tax range of 15-20% which also applies to cryptocurrencies, since the IRS treats them like other assets for tax purposes.  
  • As it has shown in the past, Bitcoin has the potential for large gains — which can greatly improve an individual’s quality of life during retirement.

What are the disadvantages of a Bitcoin IRA?

  • Cryptocurrency is currently way too volatile for a retirement plan. Such accounts require a certain level of stability to serve their intended purpose.
  • Unlike stocks, most cryptocurrencies do not generate any earnings or dividends for their holders and are solely based on their fluctuating prices.
  • Self-directed IRAs are more expensive than their traditional counterparts, especially in the case of bitcoin which costs a lot to set up and store due to its security needs.
  • It is a risky way to invest and there is a possibility of loss.
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How to choose a good Bitcoin IRA?

Although self-directed Bitcoin IRAs are a common way to invest in digital currencies for retirement, some specialized Bitcoin IRAs are emerging. When choosing which one to use, it’s important to consider the costs, tax options and security associated with it. Some of the best Bitcoin IRAs to choose from in 2019 are:

BITCOINIRA

This is an IRA company that allows people to save their retirement funds in the form of Bitcoin, EthereumRipple, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, Stellar Lumens, and Zcash. It provides traditional, Roth and rollover models, and allows users to trade their digital currencies while they are in the IRA.

BitcoinIRA uses multi-signature encryption, as well as voice identification to secure user accounts and avoid breaches. It also offers consultation and trading services, price charts, and free ebooks. For users who want a simple IRA that allows them to save different digital currencies at the same time, this is a great choice.

BROAD FINANCIAL

This company offers self-directed IRAs, and solo 401(k) including the option of investing in Bitcoin. It requires a payment of  $1,395 (or a different amount, depending on the state), after which users can keep investing. Like BitcoinIRA, Broad Financial gives investors the option of speaking to a specialist about investment assistance.  

REGAL ASSETS

Regal Assets support IRA investments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and Monero. It is credited as the first firm to receive a trade license for cryptocurrency commodities and the first to establish a bitcoin IRAs for BTC.

FIRST DIGITAL IRA

First Digital IRA offers its users several investment options such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and cryptocurrency. Using this IRA, users are able to invest their retirement funds in Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum. They offer all three types of IRAs and the option of handling all trade and investment services for the user. This is ideal for people who need investment guidance and assistance, especially with the complexity of cryptocurrency.

Final thoughts

IRAs are a necessity for anyone who hopes to retire without financial problems. Naturally, people search for the best way to increase the amount of money they save. As a result, there is a growing opportunity for IRA providers to diversify into the realm of cryptocurrency due to its growing use and demand. However, there are still volatility issues to be considered. Regardless, cryptocurrencies may give individuals a better chance at financial freedom.

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/how-to-choose-a-bitcoin-ira

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Titanium Blockchain: Why It Failed

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/titanium-blockchain-why-the-ico-failed

On May 22, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint against Titanium Blockchain, an Israeli start up in the middle of its ICO at the time. According to the SEC, the firm had violated the commission’s registration and anti-fraud regulations in the process of raising funding from investors.

Charged with securities fraud, company founder, Michael Stollaire stands accused of falsifying information. Allegedly, the company was caught claiming false ties to large firms like Boeing, Disney, and PayPal.

WHAT IS TITANIUM BLOCKCHAIN?

According to their official website, Titanium Blockchain is a research, development and consulting company that offers full-scale blockchain development services to enterprises in several industries.  

They are focused on exposing corporations to the applications of blockchain technology for benefits such as increased efficiency and speed. The firm claims that it delivers deep insights to its clients, based on a wealth of experience within the field. They follow a comprehensive roadmap which encompasses every stage of operation, from elaborate planning and product architecture to selecting the best technical solutions, product definition, outlining R&D processes and final execution.

Their main services include consulting, private and public blockchain development as well as ICO services.

The Tel Aviv-based firm makes use of several existing blockchain applications including Hyperledger, NEO, Ripple, Waves, Cardano, Quorum, AION, Wanchain, Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), and Ethereum-based decentralized applications among others.

In September 2018, Titanium blockchain announced that it officially became a technology partner of WLTH, a health blockchain platform which rewards users for achieving health goals. Some other significant partnerships include:

  • Gaby, a community management tool
  • Millentrix, a cryptocurrency management service
  • Verv, a smart home energy assistance that provides information on electricity usage
  • Bidipass, an ID verification solution
  • The ICO platform
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WHAT WAS THE TITANIUM BLOCKCHAIN INFRASTRUCTURE SCAM?

According to a statement by Robert Cohen, head of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit:

“This ICO was based on a social media marketing blitz that allegedly deceived investors with purely fictional claims of business prospects. Having filed multiple cases involving allegedly fraudulent ICOs, we again encourage investors to be especially cautious when considering these as investments.”

In detail, the Titanium fraud involved an inflation scheme that allowed it to profit from deceiving investors. It entailed orchestrating a social media campaign, using fake testimonials and false claims of corporate relationships with over thirty well-known companies, to create the illusion of credibility and expertise to unsuspecting investors.

This generated a high demand for their digital asset during the ICO stage since the brands that were falsely named gave the firm an extra layer of credibility. They also offered incentives and created a sense of urgency leading to FOMO (fear of missing out) which prompted investors to buy into their tokens without analyzing the project properly.

SEC COMPLAINT

In its complaint against Titanium Blockchain, the SEC has also sued the firm for evading a valid offering exemption and registration. EHI Internetwork and Systems Management Inc., another company linked to Stollaire, was also mentioned in the complaint. Following the initial complaint, regulatory officials successfully obtained an emergency asset freeze which applied to the Titanium ICO in which over $21 million was raised.

The SEC is focused on the retrieval of investor funds with interest and several penalties. The regulator also has plans to ban company founder, Stollaire, from any further participation in future digital offerings. Following the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the SEC, all involved parties have agreed to a preliminary injunction for the status of the firm to become a permanent receivership.

This case can be linked to the recent focus on cracking down on fraudulent misrepresentation within the industry. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) has also increased its efforts to dismantle fraudulent activity carried out by cryptocurrency firms. To this effect, operation Crypto Sweep was launched in April 2018 and is currently investigating more than 50 firms.

This is not the first time an ICO has been deemed fraudulent. In September 2017, the SEC filed charges against Maksim Zaslavskiy when it was revealed that fraudulent blockchain projects, REcoin and Diamond Reserve Coin ICOs only existed on paper. Through aggressive marketing tactics, Zaslavskiy was able to con about 100 investors out of $300,000. Neither coin issued investors’ tokens nor developed blockchain infrastructure as advertised.

Recently, Centra, another budding blockchain startup, along with its three co-founders were accused of a similar case of misrepresentation in which they claimed strong ties to card network giants, Visa and Mastercard.

WHAT LESSONS CAN BE LEARNED FROM THIS SCANDAL?

Now that the cryptocurrency regulatory atmosphere is becoming stricter by the day due to new initiatives by regulators, there will likely be a reduction in fraudulent cases like that of Titanium Blockchain. If one thing is clear, it is that there is a lesson for both firms and investors within the space who either perpetrate fraud or fall prey to it.

Firstly, in any ICO, issuers must adhere to publishing only truthful representations of their business model, promises, and operations in their whitepapers, press releases and any other documents that can be classed as marketing material. This also applies to social media use, since there is a large audience on several platforms who can become investors in future.

Issuers must also check with regulators to see if their marketing tactics are legal and properly placed in a way that does not mislead the public on the nature of products or services being offered. This should be done before any marketing campaign begins, to avoid any problems.

Generally, for issuers who use testimonials as a way to boost credibility and gain trust, extra care should be taken to ensure that they do not contain any misrepresentation, whether intentionally or not. Misrepresentation may lead to complaints and accusations from investors who feel that they have been defrauded.

It goes without saying that the use of information, including logos and names from other companies without permission, attracts a legal consequence. The same thing goes for falsifying records such as certificates and degrees to show a high level of expertise. Any of these acts can invite regulatory scrutiny. The Howey Test may also be carried out, to determine the contract nature of the asset being offered.

Investors who are looking to buy tokens from an issuer must be careful to carry out checks on such companies. These checks should typically include the background information of the company team members, their past companies, and performance. It is also imperative that investors confirm if such a firm is licensed to offer its tokens and which regulator issued the license. As for issuers who use testimonials from companies, investors could contact some of them to find out whether such claims are true.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Regulatory issues have plagued the cryptocurrency scene for a long time and have acted as a blockade for future development. If users are too scared to invest in blockchain projects because they are afraid of being scammed, how is the ecosystem supposed to move forward? Firms such as Titanium Blockchain, while under the guise of building the blockchain industry, have inadvertently contributed to tearing it down.

Blockchain investment can be highly rewarding. However, due to fraudulent parties, it can also be disappointing. While regulators combat these parties and bring them to book, investors must be shrewd when deciding which projects to put any amount of money into.

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/titanium-blockchain-why-the-ico-failed

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Your Guide to Bitcoin Trading

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/your-guide-to-bitcoin-trading

The hype train for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology grows longer with each passing day, and for good reason. 2017 showed that depending on how investors play it, digital currencies can be very profitable investment vehicles, even more so than traditional stocks. Those who invested even small amounts of money at the beginning of the year were able to earn huge returns by December due to the peak in several currencies.

Bitcoin especially showed unexpected highs that have been difficult to replicate ever since. By shooting up to $20,000 per unit, the pioneer cryptocurrency motivated new investors to enter the crypto space in hopes of turning high profits, even as far as altcoins were concerned. This resulted in further adoption and the creation of even more profitable ways to invest.

Although Bitcoin trading and the trade of other digital currencies were around before 2017, transaction volume saw an increase. Statistics show that in 2017, about $12,000 per second was transacted in Bitcoin, compared to about $2,000 per second in 2016. Also, Bitcoin has become more open and accessible to the public. Where it was initially dominated by software engineers and developers, a larger portion of the general public is now knowledgeable enough to partake in trading Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is easily the most popular digital currency in existence, with a market capitalization of $70,735,428,301. Unlike traditional currencies, which are backed by reserves in physical commodities like oil, gold, and silver, it relies solely on cryptographic computing.

It is decentralized and does not need to be managed or distributed by a central authority. Instead, its coins (units) are earned and distributed by miners, a group of computing nodes that secure the network and confirm all transactions in exchange for a reward. As a result of the constant buying and selling of Bitcoin, it is highly volatile. This allows users to buy BTC at lower price points and sell it at higher ones and forms the basis of Bitcoin trading.

HOW BITCOIN TRADING IS DONE

On a basic level, people who wish to trade Bitcoin are expected to fully research what they are about to do. As simple as it may seem, digital currencies can be wildly unpredictable, and it is just as easy to lose money as it is difficult to gain it. Basic knowledge of BTC price history and chart reading is important.

Next, users will have to create a Bitcoin wallet on a site like blockchain.com or Bitcoin.com. After doing this, BTC has to be bought and put into the wallet where it can be transferred to an exchange for trade. To buy BTC using fiat currency, users can sign up on Coinbase and verify their accounts, after which they will be able to exchange fiat for BTC and transfer it to their wallets. Now it can be moved to the desired exchange to begin trading different currency pairs like BTC/ETH or BTC/XRP.

WHY TRADE BITCOIN?

Bitcoin trade is a common practice in the cryptocurrency space but, what incentives does it offer? Why should anyone trade it? Before going into trade, it is important to know how advantageous the practice can be, what to expect and what comes off as unrealistic expectations. It is beneficial for several reasons:

1. IT CAN BE DONE FROM ANY LOCATION

Unlike fiat currency, Bitcoin is not governed by the policies of any particular country. It is free from country-specific economic demands and fines. As a result, its users can trade from any location as long as they have a PC and internet connection. BTC can be exchanged for other currencies without being monitored by a central figure.

2. IT CAN BE DONE AT ANY TIME

Since Bitcoin is traded from most countries in different time zones, the market never stops moving and it can be done 24/7. Bitcoin exchanges are also fully digital, not fixed in particular locations, so they operate continuously. Since there are no fixed exchanges, there is no fixed price, and this is advantageous for traders. However, all exchanges tend to stay within the same price range.

3. BITCOIN IS VOLATILE

Like other cryptocurrencies, the price of Bitcoin is known to fluctuate frequently and rapidly due to many different factors. A study by undergraduate students at the University of Missouri showed that BTC price has fluctuated in the past due to any of the following reasons:

  • Changes in Bitcoin structure, such as a fork
  • Personal opinions by industry experts and big names in financial business and investing
  • New developments in government regulation
  • News concerning other cryptocurrencies such as forks, upgrades, and partnerships
  • Bitcoin exchanges under investigation
  • New investment opportunities like BTC lending
  • Cybersecurity news such as exchange hacks and coin theft from wallets

Bitcoin’s price has always reacted to major events. For example, it fell after the Winklevoss twins proposal for a Bitcoin ETF was rejected by the SEC in late 2018. In 2016, BTC saw a 16% decline after Mike Hearn called it a failure. There was also another decline when China announced that it would begin investigating exchanges in Beijing. Generally, bad news leads to declines while good news has positive effects on the BTC price.

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BITCOIN TRADING VS INVESTING: IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

Bitcoin trading and investing are often used interchangeably but, they are very different approaches to dealing with cryptocurrency.

INVESTING

Bitcoin investing is usually a long-term undertaking. This means that a person buys BTC with the intention of holding it for a long time. Investors typically believe that its price will rise and fall continuously and are not fazed by this volatility. They usually have a portfolio of other cryptocurrencies as well and are unlikely to give up their investments when there is a market crash.

Just the same way an investor in a large company is unlikely to give up their investment due to a bad quarter, BTC investors HODL until the very end. Short term price trends are unimportant where investing is concerned. Instead, long-term trends are considered.

Bitcoin investors are also motivated for different reasons than traders. They believe in the ideology, team or technology behind the cryptocurrency.  

Investors tend to do the following things:

  • Create a long-term position with their digital assets based solely on long-term trends
  • Create a position based on a lower price than the target sell price (if any)
  • Hardly sell except if they think it will be instrumental in gaining more long-term returns
  • Keep their digital assets through both bullish and bearish markets even when the price margins are huge  
  • Add to their position with time

TRADING

By contrast, Bitcoin trading is carried out based on the short-term behavior of the markets. Traders typically buy and sell Bitcoin whenever they think a profit can be made. They view it primarily as an instrument of short-term profit and do not bother about the technology or ideology behind it. They also tend to avoid sentiments towards a particular coin in case they have to drop it later.

A trader will usually enter the market and trade for a few months during peak season before abandoning the coin when it becomes unprofitable. For these groups of people, short-term price trends and profit matter more than the future or fundamentals of Bitcoin.

Traders tend to do the following things:

  • Shoot for short-term profit based solely on short-term trends and technical analysis
  • Buy low and sell high in the short term before peak periods
  • Take risks and losses without fear
  • Only buy high to follow a trend
  • Care very little about the current price of an asset and focus on its movement and potential for gains
  • Leave a lot of money on the table while chasing profit

A COMPARISON BETWEEN BITCOIN TRADING AND INVESTMENT RISKS

Although both trading and investing are risky, the former is far worse. While investors can wait out any market crash knowing that the prices will rise again in the long term, traders do not have the luxury. Where investors already have resources to keep them going through a rough patch, traders are usually all-in. They always have to know when to get in and out of the markets to avoid losing money.

Since trading focuses on short-term gains, a bad market crash can cripple a trader’s operations, especially if they have to wait a long time to recover their funds.

Bitcoin investors do not need to have an in-depth knowledge of Bitcoin market movements. They can also start with small amounts that increase over a long period. Since it is held for long, it can grow into a large sum of money within years. It is also easier since investors do not need to worry about BTC price volatility, because they usually enter the market prepared for long waits.

Traders, on the other hand, mostly work by closely following trends and carrying out technical analysis on the market movements. It is difficult for people to excel at it without understanding the technicalities of the market. It is also difficult to start with small amounts since traders aim for percentage gains over a short period.

The constant fluctuation of Bitcoin is only for those who understand and accept the possibility and implication of loss.

TRADING TYPES

Although all traders aim for the short-term profits, they do not all achieve it the same way. While day trading is the most common type, there are other types of Bitcoin trading, including Scalping and Swing trading.

DAY TRADING

Day traders carry out multiple trades throughout the day and try to turn profits on daily price movements before the market closes. They spend a lot of time in front of computers, monitoring the market charts on an exchange platform, until they close their trades for the day.

Day trading has several subcategories but, the core idea is to spot daily trends and buy and sell BTC. Several exchanges have trading sections that make things easier for day traders. Time is the most important thing to a day trader since a few minutes can change the outcome of their entire trade due to the extreme volatility of Bitcoin.

SCALPING

In traditional investing, scalping is the process of placing multiple trades with the aim of making profits off small price changes. It is extremely time-sensitive short-term trading which can easily go wrong. This is why it is reserved for the shrewdest traders.

The general idea behind scalping is that making small profits reduces the general risk of losing all of one’s money at once. Profit also comes in through different trades as a contingency plan in case a few trades go sour. In contrast, normal trade involves buying and selling high in just one trade position which can go bad and lead to a loss of bulk funds.

Scalping can involve hundreds of daily trades by a single trader, which are easier to catch than larger price movements. Combined, several small profits make up significantly large gains as long as a trader has a strict exit strategy and is not pushed by greed. The loss is also greatly reduced.

Generally carried out on the intraday 1-minute and 5-minute intervals, scalping aims to use larger position sizes for smaller gains in the shortest possible holding time. The goal is to buy or sell a number of BTC at a current price and then quickly sell it a small percentage higher for profit. Traders can hold off for anywhere from a few seconds to several hours but usually close the trade at the end of the day.

Scalping is a fast-paced high-pressure activity that requires precision and accuracy to be executed well. Momentum indicators such as moving average convergence divergence (MACD), stochastic, and relative strength index (RSI) are commonly used to determine the most advantageous trends. Price chart indicators like Bollinger bands, moving averages, and pivot points are also used to view good levels of support and resistance.

SWING TRADING

Bitcoin price usually swings in cycles which traders can benefit from. Swing traders take advantage of this natural swing by holding overnight, until a price movement dies out. This means that unlike day traders, they do not have to constantly monitor the charts. Typically, swing trading may take as little as overnight or as long as weeks to perform. Unlike day trading, trends become more apparent in swing trading and the volatility of BTC is enough to support it.

Swing trading is flexible and does not take up as much time as day trading or scalping. New swing traders may find this quality appealing since not everyone takes on trading as full-time work. It is better suited for those who hold other jobs and would rather not focus fully on Bitcoin trade but still wish to make some profit.

Success in swing trading heavily relies on following the direction of weekly and monthly trends, not just by looking at charts, but by checking exchange order books to see what other traders are doing. This will greatly increase a trader’s chance of making a profitable trade.  

Swing trading also relies on industry news, since price cycles — especially those in one to three-week time frames — are affected by ongoing events. Traders have to monitor the news and be ready to pull out of the market in anticipation of anything that can disrupt it negatively, such as regulatory developments and exchange hacks. They also must look out for good news that can influence the market positively, to access whether a change of position will guarantee a higher profit percentage.

Like day trading, swing trading is extremely risky, and traders must have a contingency plan in place to manage risk and limit the loss of funds in a bear market. This can mean cutting losses quickly to avoid forced liquidation.

Swing trading is a great way to conserve time while still earning profits, but traders must research all trends and ensure that they are certain of them before jumping in.

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ANALYSIS METHODS USED IN BITCOIN TRADING

The price of Bitcoin is unpredictable, but traders and investors use certain methodologies to discover movement patterns. These instruments allow them to make informed trade decisions with minimal risk. The two main methodologies used for Bitcoin trade and investment, are fundamental analysis and technical analysis.

FUNDAMENTAL ANALYSIS

Fundamental analysis is used to predict trade odds by looking at the big picture. It can be used to view Bitcoin value, in terms of its technology and external factors, to determine possible changes in price. These factors include the cryptocurrency industry as a whole, news concerning Bitcoin, technical changes, regulatory developments and general events that may affect the price of BTC negatively or positively.

This type of analysis is often successfully used in the traditional stock trade since there are many different fundamentals to base the market on. Some examples are dividends and earnings. Unfortunately, cryptocurrency is fairly new and still a developing market, so it is more difficult to carry out fundamental analysis for several reasons:

  • Unlike their traditional counterparts, cryptocurrency markets do not have a lot of data to base its trades and fundamental analysis upon. For example, stocks can see related price movements when a company’s earnings are released. Depending on this, there can be an increase or decline in the stock price. Other factors can also push the price in either direction based on the company. Bitcoin is not a company, so it is difficult to collect specific data that can point to future price movements.
  • Bitcoin is decentralized, so buying BTC does not give a trader ownership to any part of it. The value of the coin does not have a direct relationship with how Bitcoin performs technically, because traders are not concerned about it. Its Projected Earnings Growth, Price to Earnings Ratio, and Return on Equity cannot easily be calculated.
  • The cryptocurrency market is largely speculative, as Warren Buffet has said before. Cryptocurrencies generally have no intrinsic value and a lot of them do not have working products yet. This means that the market is driven by the actions of traders and investors.
  • Since the market is new, it is difficult to give digital currency companies an accurate valuation. Because there is no historical benchmark, it is difficult to say just how valuable they will be.  
  • Often, coins are not used for their intended purposes so there is no way of analyzing their performance accurately.

TECHNICAL ANALYSIS

Technical Analysis (TA) looks at the historic price and volume trends of Bitcoin, and in other digital currencies, to predict their future price movements. To predict the future price of BTC, it studies market factors including past price movements and trading volumes. This helps traders to identify price patterns that can help them deduce future odds.

Unlike fundamental analysis, technical analysis does not consider the fundamentals of an asset like Bitcoin. Instead, it focuses on charting and mapping out technical indicators to predict the possibility of short-term, medium-term, and long-term trends based on past and current data. This means that it is not necessarily certain, but points traders in the right direction.

Mathematical calculations known as “technical indicators” are used to carry out this type of analysis on the past and current BTC price and volume data (even when performing “trend analysis”). Technical analysts usually study this information visually in the form of candlestick charts. Some common technical indicators used in the technical analysis include Elliott Waves (EW), Moving Averages (MA), and the Relative Strength Index (RSI).

The main assumption behind technical analysis is that price movement can point to future changes, no matter what events occur globally. In trading, both types of analysis can fail but, using both gives traders a higher chance of accurately predicting future price changes.

Human behavior in markets is predictable and shows that new investors will always tend to follow the trends of past investors. This is why studying past price factors is a great pointer to future price behavior.

POPULAR BITCOIN TRADING TERMS

For those who would like to start trading Bitcoin, it helps to be familiar with certain terms that one is bound to come across constantly. These terms include:

BITCOIN EXCHANGE

A Bitcoin exchange is an online platform where buyers are matched with sellers who want to exchange one currency for another. Depending on the exchange, fiat currencies can also be exchanged for cryptocurrency. Although most popular Bitcoin exchanges are automated and automatically match users and execute trades depending on their orders, some are peer-based. This means that they only match users with similar buy/sell orders and leave them to handle the trade themselves.

While there are other sources of BTC, such as Bitcoin ATMs, exchanges are the most common place to buy and sell it. Before choosing an exchange, traders must consider several qualities such as its reliability, quality, security, fees, liquidity, spread, purchase and withdrawal limits, trading volume, insurance, support, and user interface.

Exchanges like Coinbase and Binance rank high in such qualities, with high levels of security, high trade volumes, and good insurance. After choosing an exchange, a trader will be expected to verify their identity. Trading pairs can be viewed, and each exchange will have a buy/sell tab where orders can be placed. On Coinbase for example, BTC trading can be done in the following steps:

  • Click on the Buy/Sell Bitcoin’ tab
  • Select a payment method
  • Enter an amount
  • Click ‘Buy Bitcoin Instantly’
  • View Bitcoins on the user dashboard

ORDER BOOK

An order book is a ledger that contains a complete list of users’ buy and sell orders on an exchange platform. Normally, an order to buy BTC is known as a “bid”, while an order to sell is known as an “ask.” When the requirements of matched bids and asks are fulfilled, a trade has occurred.

Order book depth refers to the total quantity of orders in the book and can be used to measure the market’s buy/sell intentions. It can be viewed using a depth chart that records cumulative bids and asks in the current market. This way, traders can see the total ask/bid volume in the order books from the latest transaction.

BITCOIN PRICE

Bitcoin price is the price of the last trade conducted on a particular exchange, and changes quickly with time. Bitcoin volume, on the other hand, is the total amount of Bitcoin that is traded within a given timeframe and is typically used by traders to determine how significant a trend is.

Bitcoin price is only one of several factors used to see how the coin is performing and currently, it is the cryptocurrency with the highest price. In December 2017, BTC reached its peak price of more than $20,000 and has since been on a lengthy correction. Other cryptocurrencies have also seen massive corrections since their prices are somewhat tied to Bitcoin.

MARKET ORDER

A Market Order is a type of buy/sell order that is fulfilled immediately, at market price. Traders simply set the amount of BTC they wish to buy, and the trade is executed immediately. One major drawback of this type of order is that traders can end up buying a little higher and selling a little lower than the market price. Normally, this may not do so much damage, but in a volatile market, it becomes apparent.

Market orders buy and sell available limit orders sitting on the order books at a given time, and traders are expected to pay an extra fee to execute them. While it is the easiest order to execute, it is risky in volatile markets. Market orders are best executed when there are a lot of buyers and sellers on the platform and there is very little spread, thus ensuring that a trade can be carried out at market price.

LIMIT ORDER

Limit orders allow traders to buy or sell BTC at specific prices that they choose and allow them to set buy or sell limits. They usually create an order in the order book that will hopefully be filled by someone else’s market order. When the market price reaches the trader’s chosen price, the trade is executed. Unlike market orders, limit orders do not have the risk of buying higher or selling lower than the market price.

One major drawback of limit orders is that traders can easily miss an opportunity when they set their buy/sell limits too high or low.

STOP LOSS ORDER

A stop loss order allows a trader to set a specific future sale price as a contingency plan, in case the BTC price drops unexpectedly. A stop order places a market order only when a preset price condition is met.

Basically, it functions as a limit order in the book but executes trades like a market order, therefore it is subject to the same fees as the latter. This also means that stop orders are subject to slippage, in which traders buy higher or sell lower than the market price. Stop orders are a great way to manage losses but can also be risky.

MAKER AND TAKER FEES

Maker and taker fees are charged by exchanges to encourage people to trade. They are paid by traders whenever particular orders (market, limit, or stop-loss orders) are made.

When a trader places a market or stop order that is immediately filled, they are referred to as a “taker,” and are expected to pay a taker fee for it, since such traders are essentially “taking” the price they want by buying or selling limit orders on the order books.

When a trader places a limit order that is not filled immediately, such as a limit order, they are referred to as a “maker,” and are expected to pay a reduced “maker” fee for it.

“Takers” generally pay a higher fee while “makers” pay a reduced fee.

COMMON TRADING MISTAKES

Although losses are commonly due to issues with the volatility and unpredictability of Bitcoin, traders can also lose money as a result of their own mistakes. Some common mistakes include:

1. RISKING MORE THAN ONE CAN AFFORD

This is one of the biggest mistakes that a trader can make. The promise of profit can be so tempting that people begin to consider putting all their money into cryptocurrency. The risk of loss associated with trading makes this a bad idea. This is why traders must only trade with spare cash that will not leave them stranded after a loss.

Trading with more than one is comfortable with, may also negatively affect their decision-making process and drive them to make bad trade decisions. There is also more fear and anxiety due to the looming possibility of losing all the money.

2. NOT HAVING A TRADING STRATEGY

Before going into Bitcoin trading, users must have a comprehensive plan, showing their short-term and long-term trade goals, as well as how they hope to achieve them. Everything should be drawn out to the last detail, including the type of trading they wish to carry out, as well as the exchanges they hope to use.

Not having an actionable plan is a problem because traders will have no definite way of knowing if they’ve made any significant progress. Planning also helps traders develop a backup plan for losses, as well as record all cash flow, in and out of exchanges. This way, it is more difficult to give into greed since a roadmap is being followed.  

3. LEAVING MONEY ON AN EXCHANGE

The bout of exchange hacks in 2018 have shown that it is unsafe to leave money on these platforms. One major reason is that exchanges use password systems which can be hacked or mistakenly given away through phishing sites. Bitcoin cold wallets, on the other hand, are secured with private keys that are much harder to collect.

Another reason to never leave money on an exchange is that wallets on such platforms are not managed by the trader. This means that there is a possibility of another party accessing the BTC in that account. Cryptocurrency on exchanges is also exempt from some of the benefits of hard forks at the given time. For example, Bitcoin users who did not have their BTC on exchanges received Bitcoin Cash tokens after the August 2017 hard fork.

4. GIVING INTO FEAR OR GREED

Fear and greed are the major drivers of bad trade decisions that lead to loss of funds. It is important to be aware of the natural tendency towards both qualities, especially under high-pressure situations. The high volatility of the Bitcoin market makes it easier to fall prey to them. This is especially apparent in situations where traders put in more than they can afford. Making a plan and sticking to it, helps to avoid being in this situation.

5. NOT LEARNING A LESSON

Losses happen. It is difficult to get to the point of making money without losing some on the way. The real problem begins when traders do not learn from the past mistake that led to a loss. Losing money as a trader can be painful, and even shameful in some cases. However, both good and bad experience contributes to making a trader better over time, and the ability to learn from it determines how well one can bounce back.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Bitcoin trade can be extremely profitable but, whoever said it would be easy? There are a lot of technicalities that new traders must become familiar with but, at the end of the day, practice makes perfect. The same thing goes for Bitcoin investing, which is a lot easier and less risky than trading. Most importantly, users must decide which they are best suited for. Trading takes a lot of commitment and without a genuine interest in Bitcoin price movements, the profits are difficult to earn. As for investing, there may be no short-term yield, but it requires less commitment and may yield even higher returns. Choose wisely.

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/your-guide-to-bitcoin-trading

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How Does Bitcoin Secure Your Money?

This article was written by the team at techwarn

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency or digital currency that has been in existence for approximately ten years. First introduced to the public in 2009, the currency fully hit its stride in 2013, and since then, both its value and popularity has been on an upward trajectory.

What makes Bitcoin so secure?

To fully understand what makes Bitcoin secure, it is essential first to understand what constitutes a security risk with regards to Blockchain technology—the backbone or underlying technology behind Bitcoins.

1. A Sybil attack

One possible vector of attack for Blockchains is a Sybil attack. A Sybil attack occurs when a party that owns a vast amount of nodes on a single network tries to flood the network with bad transactions or manipulate valid transactions with the aim of disrupting network activity.

Bitcoin is safe from such an attack because it utilizes Proof-of-Work algorithm. With the algorithm, nodes must spend resources to receive coins. As a result, it is too expensive for any one party to own a huge number of nodes.

2. A DDoS attack

A Direct Denial of Service is another possible vector of attack. With DDoS, malicious people try to cripple a server—it could be a website or Bitcoin node—by flooding it with massive traffic. A DDoS is easy to accomplish because a hacker can easily buy the attack from the multiple hacker firms in existence online.

Although Bitcoin experiences a constant flow of DDoS attempts, they are never successful because of the design choices inherent in the Bitcoin network. Moreover, if by some rare chance a DDoS attempt is successful, Bitcoin immediately halts all network activity which, in turn, prevents a hacker from stealing funds or compromising security.

3. Double-spending due to a majority attack

A majority attack, which is also known as 51% involves a hacker clinching control over a majority of the network’s hash power. If a hacker succeeds in doing this, then he/she can mine blocks at a faster rate than the rest of the network combined. That, in turn, facilitates double-spending—defrauding a cryptocurrency so that an attacker can use the same coins to transact twice.

When it comes to Bitcoin, two reasons make such an attack next to impossible. One, it would be ridiculously expensive. Second, anyone who gains a considerable majority of hash power is better off mining blocks and receiving the Bitcoin instead of stealing.

Finally, Bitcoin implements a confirmation mechanism in addition to maintaining a universal ledger that helps prevent double-spending.

How does Bitcoin compare to other cryptocurrencies?

Since the inception of Bitcoin, the world has seen a rise in digital currencies. Collectively, all the other virtual currencies are known as Altcoins. Altcoins try to target Bitcoin’s perceived limitations and aim to come up with new coins that overcome the said limitations.

Examples of Altcoins include Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. While some of these Altcoins have seen significant success, e.g., Ethereum which is second to Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization; Bitcoin is still the supreme option. Why is this so?

Because the defining characteristics of Bitcoin are superior and they ensure the coin is a rung above the rest. These characteristics include,

  • Stability. Compared to all the other Altcoins, Bitcoin is the most stable.
  • First mover advantage. Because Bitcoin was the first of its kind, it has the first mover advantage.
  • Bitcoin’s ability to handle all manner of attacks. Since its inception, Bitcoin has experienced countless attacks, and yet no one has successfully managed to bring it down. If anything, with each attack, it becomes better and more resilient.
  • The currency’s viral effect and the social network effect. The excitement over Bitcoin is yet to die down. With each year, excitement increases and as a result, it is the most trusted cryptocurrency.
  • Its position as a gatekeeper or reserve-cryptocurrency. Before someone can purchase another altcoin, they must first have Bitcoins to exchange.

Final word

The Blockchain technology keeps on improving, and experts theorize that in the future, the technology will play a key role in making the internet more secure. That means it is not only your money that will be secure but your data as well.

This article was written by the team at techwarn

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A New Age for Digital Advertising with Blockchain?

This article was originally published by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/a-new-age-for-digital-advertising-with-blockchain

Advertising has become an essential part of promoting any type of business available and even plays a role in driving the data market further. The world of advertising is worth billions of dollars and is on course to hit $120 billion by 2021 in the US.

Every company, no matter what they offer, cannot function without reaching their target audience– this is where advertising comes into the picture. Brands like Google live off consumer data which can be used to send targeted ads to the right audience. Unfortunately, there are several issues that make the process of reaching the right audience inefficient.

Currently, almost half of all ad traffic is generated by bots. This means that even though so many brands pay a lot of money to reach their potential customers, it does not guarantee that they will actually make any sales to real, paying customers. While the reach and even engagement generated by paid ads can translate to heavy figures, the useful leads are relatively low.

This situation can be fixed by creating platforms that will allow companies to target their potential customers individually and in a direct manner. This will ensure that bots can be filtered out and sales can be maximized.Blockchain applications and  smart contracts are great technologies to base such a system on.

A blockchain platform is an immutable digital ledger that stores all the transactions carried out on the network it supports. It has already been described as an emerging technology that will disrupt the way several industries function. It is now clear that digital marketing may be one of those ledger technology industries.

In the past few years, since the emergence of bitcoin, the buzz surrounding blockchain which underpins most cryptocurrencies has increased considerably. There are already more than 2000 digital currency, all with their own unique use cases and projects. The appeal of blockchain lies in the number of useful applications it has. In advertising, a blockchain platform would be able to target the users on its network without allowing bot activity to thrive. It could also change current the world of advertising by making the process more transparent and private.

How can the new blockchain process be used by advertisers?

Mostly, blockchain can be used to improve the process of running digital ads and paying out publishers as well as distributors. When implemented, the technology can improve the following:

Fraud prevention

Advertising has a fraud problem perpetrated by human accounts as well as bots. Usually, bots are created to crawl web pages carrying out helpful tasks, but they have become a medium for carrying out cybercrime.

Popular platforms like Twitter where advertising plays a huge role have reported a bot problem that they’re actively trying to combat. In fact, Twitter has begun making plans to implement blockchain technology in solving this problem.

According to “What Happens Next: How To Reverse The Rising Tide Of Ad Fraud,” a 2017 report, up to $16.4 billion of global advertising revenue was wasted on ad fraud in 2017. Unfortunately, this figure may continue to increase if nothing is done to fix the situation. There are several factors that make blockchain well-suited for fraud prevention, including:

  • Immutability
  • High levels of security due to its decentralized mode of operation, verification mechanisms and encryption.
  • Transparency since transactions can be authenticated.

Overall, blockchain systems make it difficult to commit fraud because transactions are in the open. Also, blockchains do not have a single point of failure and as such, it is difficult to hack them. This can potentially save advertisers and publishers millions each year by protecting them against cybercrime.

Direct to consumer digital marketing

Platforms like Google and Facebook have come under fire recently for consumer-data distribution issues. Because such platforms make a lot of revenue off advertising, they collect consumer data to better target the right target audience. Unfortunately, this could feel like a violation of privacy for many users who would rather have more control over how their data is collected and what it is used for.

Usually, enterprises that run digital ads on larger platforms like Google and Facebook have to pay for this service. Blockchain gives them a way out. Since the information stored on blockchain networks are secured using various encryptions that can only be decrypted using the owner’s private keys, users retain control over their data. As a result, the services of middlemen will no longer be needed in the advertising data collection process. These blockchain platforms create a direct connection between consumers and enterprises.

Companies can also use blockchain to show people who their data is being sold to since the information cannot be deleted or manipulated. This will make consumers feel at ease without having to constantly worry about their data.

Provisions of efficient cross-promotional B2B contracts

Smart contracts are lines of written code in the form of distributed apps on a blockchain network. They are created to set up a binding agreement between parties based on their conditions. The conditions can be external events, like a price point, set of obligations or time limit with an expiration date. Since blockchain transactions can easily be verified, smart contracts cannot be forged and all involved parties can follow up the transaction.

These contracts can be used in any system from voting to app subscription and digital marketing. They help advertisers bypass lawyers and other middlemen by conducting the process of exchanging money, shares or any valuable assets. These contracts are created with conditions that are self-executed in a transparent and conflict-free way.

Influencer marketing is popular among brands but there is currently no regulatory third party to determine how terms are created and followed or even how payments are made. Using blockchain, businesses will be able to clearly state obligations that must be met for payments to be made, and a smart contract will enforce it.

This will make B2B cross-promotional marketing more efficient since several contracts change hands between marketers, writers, bloggers and even social media influencers daily. Ultimately, businesses will protect themselves and save money and time in the event of a contract breach.

Transparency in contracts and with consumers

There are lot of cases in which advertising lacks transparency, such as platforms that show advertisers false metrics. For example, a platform could claim to gain millions of impressions on each ad they put out. Normally, there would be no good way to verify this information and find out the truth.

This presents an easy way for platforms to defraud enterprises through false advertisement. However, since a blockchain records such data in a way that cannot be tampered with, it can easily be verified.

Final thoughts

Advertising will continue to be the backbone of commerce because most people will not buy a product if they are not given a reason to. However, like many other industries, it is due for a technological reform that will make it more efficient for all relevant stakeholders. Blockchain not only makes the advertising process easier, it makes it faster, more secure and transparent. As this emerging technology continues to develop, there will gradually be more stable versions of it that may become more valuable to advertisers.

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33 Cryptocurrencies Described In Four Words Or Less [INFOGRAPHIC]

Thank you to MrBTC.org for providing this terrific infographic and content about cryptocurrency. It originally appeared at
https://mrbtc.org/about-33-cryptocurrencies/

Cryptocurrency also termed as Digital or Virtual currency is considered as a form of asset and the currency is designed to work as an exchange medium.

Crytpocurrency uses strong cryptography to secure the financial transactions. All these cryptocurrencies work on the blockchain technology which is a decentralized system.

The best feature of the cryptocurrency is its organic nature, where it is not issued by any central authority nor does have any government interference or manipulation with the currency.

Bitcoin is the first blockchain based cryptocurrency and is the popular and most valuable one. The popularity of Bitcoin has given birth to hundreds of alternate cryptocurrenies designed with various specifications and functions.

Some of these cryptocurrencies are clones of Bitcoins and few are forks. With so many cryptocurrencies out in the market, where new ones come out almost daily and old ones disappear seemingly.

In order to make a place and be considered as successful coin in the crypto market, these cryptocurrencies are ranked based on few criteria or values such as the market cap value, price, circulating supply of cryptocoins and maximum supply of crytocurrencies.

If the crypto coin holds the maximum market cap value along with the maximum and circulating supply then the coin stands first in the race. Bitcoin is one such coin which stands in first place so far and still continues to be in the same place followed by Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash.

The following infographic is all about description of  the Top 33 Cryptocurrencies in 4 words or less.

33 Cryptocurrencies
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200 Financial Institutions Now Use Ripple XRP

This article was originally posted by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/200-financial-institutions-now-use-ripple-xrp

Blockchain technology has garnered much attention over the last few years from both critics and advocates alike. Put simply, blockchains essentially provide a way for untrusted parties to decide on the state of a database without using an intermediary like a bank. And with global banking being a $134 trillion industry, blockchain technology anddistributed ledger technology could disrupt some of the main services banks provide. These services include:

  • Payments. With blockchains, payments can be distributed faster and with lower fees than banks.
  • Clearance and Settlement Systems. Reduced operational costs can bring us one step closer to financial institutions conducting transactions in real time.
  • Fundraising. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are in the process of testing a new model of financing that allows access to capital from traditional capital-raising firms.
  • Loans and Credit. By getting rid of the need for gatekeepers in the loan and credit industry, blockchain technology can improve security measures, making it easier to borrow money securely and deliver lower interest rates.

While the technology hasn’t yet gone fully mainstream, blockchains are already starting to transform everything from payment transactions to how money is made in the private sector. This begs the question—will the traditional banking industry embrace this new phenomenon or reject it entirely?

Bitcoin, a decentralized cryptocurrency devoid of a central bank, is currently at the forefront of this revolution. Often credited as the world’s first digital currency, Bitcoin has established itself as one of the most innovative payment networks in history. But others like Ripple are quickly following suit and emerging as key players in an ever-evolving financial market.

In fact, Ripple recently announced that they have amassed more than 200 clients with 13 new financial institutions signing up for their blockchain-based payment solution RippleNet. These include Euro Exim Bank, SendFriend, JNFX, FTCS, Ahli Bank of Kuwait, and others.

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What is RippleNet?

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Ripple markets itself as a provider of “one frictionless experience to send money globally using the power of blockchain.” Ripple’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, recently remarked that 2018 was the company’s best year on record. As published in BTC Manager, RippleNet (Ripple XRP) had gained more than 100 new customers last year, acquiring roughly three new customers each week. They also saw a 350 percent increase in the number of customers sending live payments, and according to Garlinghouse, the company is beginning to see more customers “flip the switch and leverage XRP for on-demand liquidity.” They recently broke their 200-customer threshold on January 8th, 2019.

As it stands, the goal of RippleNet is to facilitate cross-border payments between across its robust network of 200+ banks and payment providers worldwide.

The benefits of RippleNet encompass:

  • Accessing a standardized network of institutions worldwide.
  • Transact payments in seconds, not days, with instant settlement.
  • Get end-to-end visibility into fees, delivery time, and customer information.
  • Reduced capital requirements for cross-border payments.

The reality is that the process of moving money to various networks around the world inevitably produces delays and leaves customers dealing with the aftermath of additional fees. The needs of these individuals and businesses sending cross-border payments are changing fast. These customers now expect and demand real-time, low-cost, and wholly trackable payments on a global scale. But today’s payments infrastructure cultivates an experience that is quite the opposite—it’s slow-moving, expensive, and obscure. Utilizing RippleNet’s services allows customers to address and solve these pain points pain points via its sophisticated network of banks and payment providers.

RippleNet was created to solve the inefficiencies related to speed, transparency, and cost. Specifically, the fragmentation of payment processing times and high fees that are passed down to users is a main concern. And customers cannot seemingly keep up with the growing demand for rapid low-cost payments.

RippleNet’s ecosystem can be categorized into two distinct groups:

  • Network members (Enablers of RippleNet).
    • Banks seeking to process payments for both corporations and consumers. In some cases, the banks could also process payments for and provide liquidity to other banks. These banks would then leverage RippleNet to provide better service to existing customers and boost acquisition.
    • Payment providers looking to provide liquidity and increase payout reach for banks to improve their payment volumes.
  • Network users (Originators of RippleNet).
    • Platform businesses looking to send high volume and low value payouts to a global network of suppliers, merchants, and employees.
    • Corporate treasury departments intending to send large disbursements within their global supply chain in hopes of gaining greater capital visibility and control.
    • Banks and payments that want to only send payments instead of processing them, to combat the high costs and disorganization of correspondent banking.
    • Consumers looking to send payments through their bank or payment provider to yield cost-efficient, real-time results.

Which Financial Institutions are Involved with RippleNet?

RippleNet and xRapid are Ripple’s core contributions to the industry. RippleNet allows banks to work together with other participants within the network in ways that significantly reduce costs, while xRapid facilitates liquidity instantly via XRP.

Ripple’s xRapid is now expanding its reach into new markets, aiming to be the next thing that enables faster payment processing and lower costs than the current banking system. However, many of RippleNet’s clients are not using XRP for liquidity, but are directing their interests more towards Ripple’s unique technology platform and modern APIs that allow for faster, lower cost, and more transparent payments.

The XRP community remains hopeful that the Ripple blockchain will be adopted by most financial institutions in the coming years, which could be edging out SWIFT from the cross-border payment/remittance industry.

Final Thoughts

Presently, the global money market is under quite a bit of pressure in three major areas, including the uncertainty in regulation of financial transactions, a waning interest rate, and the digitization of recent technology.

Banks, in particular, have been rated as one of the most hated institutions. In fact, in Harris Poll’s Annual Corporation Reputation survey, the banking sector was ranked the least loved industry. Research indicated that such disdain stemmed from the perception that most banks often get away with basic financial indiscretions, yet can simultaneously force the public to pay for their wrongdoings any and every time they fail.  

But, luckily, the world is rapidly moving towards an age of true digital advancement. And for traditional banks to remain relevant, they have to adapt. As RippleNet has already demonstrated that it’s a force to be reckoned in the global payments sector, a partnership between the two would seem to be ideal.

The ease of deploying and using RippleNet makes it a viable platform for banks. Technical obstacles could diminish, processing might be faster, and payments could be easily settled.

This article was originally posted by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/200-financial-institutions-now-use-ripple-xrp

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Can Crypto Replace National Currencies?

This article was originally posted by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/can-cryptocurrencies-replace-national-currencies

Bitcoin has gained incredible momentum and adoption recently as the most popular and largest cryptocurrency. While many people think of Bitcoin as a speculative investment with the crazy returns, the real value driver behind Bitcoin is its status as a digital currency and store of value.

There are many people that believe Bitcoin as a digital currency represents a viable alternative currency to national fiat currencies. Futurists claim that cryptocurrency is going to disrupt 25% of national currencies by 2030 and threaten the central banking system.

But how realistic are these claims? Do cryptocurrencies have the potential to disrupt our system current currency and banking system?

Why does cryptocurrency threaten national currencies?

Cryptocurrencies are built on a decentralized technology called blockchain. The blockchain is a permanent secure ledger of records, transactions, and other data. In the traditional use case, the blockchain’s credibility is constantly maintained and verified by the network of users on the blockchain. This peer-to-peer network allows the system to function and thrive outside of a central point of control.

So when this technology is applied to create a token, it can represent a unit of value and thus a currency.

National currencies have gone through trends over the decades. Back in the 1900s, currencies, like the U.S. Dollar was backed by actual gold and had real value behind them. Today, national currencies are primarily fiat paper currencies backed by the trustworthiness of the government.

Banking systems are set up maintain national currencies by creating a safe place to store money, a reliable place to borrow money, and a liquidity provider for the currency markets. However, banking systems have become so centralized, that many people are desperate for an alternative.

The cryptocurrency market has gained massive adoption due to the decentralized nature and market equality it brings. There is still a lot of support for fiat currencies, but cryptocurrencies provide a secure digital way for people to store and trade money.

What do proponents say about cryptocurrency?

Proponents of cryptocurrencies note that they won’t be like traditional currencies. Where the US Dollar is tied to the economic activities of the United States, Bitcoin is independent of any government or jurisdiction (and thus, there is little cryptocurrency regulation). The cryptocurrency price is not tied to traditional economic activity. They also have the ability to limit the token or money supply to prevent governments from tampering with the currency by creating inflation.

Cryptocurrency influencers and those trading cryptocurrencies also think the values and prices will continue to be volatile. Especially after the recent large downturn in January and February, long-time cryptocurrency traders pointed to the consistent trends of massive dips along the way the past few years. Traditional investments like stocks and bonds go through cycles, cryptocurrencies are doing the same and will likely see more volatility.

Cryptocurrency also has the potential to change commerce as more and more retail is done online. Doing e-commerce transactions using digital currency makes sense for most people using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to buy and sell online.

How do governments define cryptocurrency?

One key issue with cryptocurrencies at the moment is that government agencies, especially in the U.S., can’t come to a consensus and agree on what cryptocurrency is and how to define it. Each agency is defining cryptocurrencies to fit under their jurisdiction so they have the authority to regulate it.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates the nation’s securities and stocks, classifies cryptocurrencies as a security. They view each coin as a security representing ownership interest in the blockchain company. It’s true that some tokens are ownership shares, but most cryptocurrencies are not intended to replace stocks or shares of a company.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is the federal tax authority in the US, defines cryptocurrency as a property, rather than being an actual currency. This means that in the eyes of the IRS, any time a cryptocurrency is traded is a taxable event. Traders are obligated to pay taxes on any gains from any cryptocurrency trades. This raised eyes when people were expecting to use cryptocurrencies to pay for their cup of coffee. No one pays taxes on their currency gains in the US Dollar when they make a purchase, why would it apply to a digital currency?

The IRS recently responded by saying that cryptocurrency transactions under $600 are not taxable. However, investors and traders are still up in arms over having to track each transaction for tax purposes. Many are purporting that cryptocurrencies are then similar to real estate property when traded and should be exempt for like-kind purchases under a 1031 exchange.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sees it a little differently and classifies cryptocurrency as a commodity, placing it under their authority. In response, two large platforms allowing futures trading have created and marketed Bitcoin futures. Cboe and CME both released Bitcoin futures trading in December 2017 when Bitcoin was spiking. People started trading Bitcoin like a commodity and betting on future prices of the cryptocurrency, pushing the coin’s price up towards an all-time high of $20,000 at its peak.

Pros and cons of crypto as currency

Advantages

One huge advantage of using digital currencies like Bitcoin as a store of value and medium of exchange is that they cannot be manipulated the same way fiat currency can. Central banks are notorious for printing paper money and diluting and inflating the nation’s money supply. This has happened in the US, where the dollar has lost 96% of its value since 1913 when the Federal Reserve took over the banking system.

The US isn’t the only nation that falls into this predicament. Venezuela is famous for inflating away their nation’s currency and hurting its own citizens who believe in the monetary system. Just Google Venezuelan currency and you get headlines like the following, “Death Spiral: 4000% Inflation in Venezuela.” These are the primary problems when you have a central point of authority, and they are the key issues that cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is trying to solve.

To continue with the Venezuela use case, the president is issuing a national cryptocurrency called the Petro that will be maintained on the blockchain and backed by the country’s chief export, oil. The government expects to leverage the cryptocurrency as a way to get around US sanctions and access international financing. This approach is interesting because it represents a move back toward physically-backed currency. Where paper money used to be commonly backed by gold, cryptocurrency is proving that you can back the currency with certain items of value.

Disadvantages

While there are some great potential benefits, there are also areas of concern when considering cryptocurrencies as actual currency. To start, as cryptocurrencies start to take market share so to speak, traditional currencies will naturally lose value and people holding would essentially have worthless paper in their hands.

There is also an infrastructure gap for widespread use of cryptocurrency. Existing financial institutions are scrambling to get their arms around the idea of cryptocurrencies and build their own networks and exchanges in order to keep up with the pace. E-commerce retailers were starting to line up to accept crypto payments like Bitcoin. But with the recent volatility, many have realized the possible dangers in accepting crypto payments at the moment. 

Final thoughts

Regardless of how we individually feel about the aspect of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies replacing the national currency and banking system, the trend is in place and we have to learn how to take advantage. Governments and financial institutions quickly realized the potential impact to their established business practices and activities, and have been trying to get ahead of the game ever since.

Whether the cryptocurrency wallet takes over in the next 10 years is unknown. But it’s important, especially for investors and trader, to keep abreast on the changing dynamic landscape. Governments, businesses, and individuals all have their own opinions about the cryptocurrency market, and it should continue to be a rollercoaster ride from here on out… so strap in!

This article was originally posted by Mintdice at
https://www.mintdice.com/blog/can-cryptocurrencies-replace-national-currencies

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