Elon Musk Continues to be Curious About Cryptocurrencies

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Elon Musk is one of the inarguably one of the world’s greatest minds. He’s been part of Zip2, X.com, SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, Hyperloop, OpenAi, Neuralink and now The Boring Company (with flamethrowers).

Throughout these projects one theme is apparent. His aim is to help the human race deal with a variety of issues that are currently being experienced or will be a major issue in the future. This includes dealing with the fossil fuel consumption levels in the car industry by developing an electric car company called Tesla, as well as looking towards space exploration through his SpaceX company.

Therefore, when Elon Musk speaks or does anything for that matter, people take notice. This is why when he was pictured with a book about cryptocurrency in his hand, the internet rumor mills went crazy.

The Book in Question

The book that Elon Musk was pictured holding is called Cryptocurrencies Simply Explained by Julian Hosp. This is a short book that provides a basic insight into the world of cryptocurrency, blockchain, bitcoin, decentralization and initial coin offerings.

The author, Dr. Julian Hosp is involved with a number of companies in the blockchain space, with the most prominent of those being a FinTech firm called TenX that specializes in the areas of bitcoin and blockchain. On his website, he makes clear his vision as helping at least 1 billion people to understand blockchain by 2025.

A lot of people in the crypto community are excited after seeing Musk pictured with a book related to the digital currency space. There are many theories as to why he has this book in his hands, with some speculating that he was simply handed it by someone.

Others, however, are a lot more optimistic and believe that Musk may be considering making some sort of headway in this space, perhaps by creating his own digital token that can be used in his Tesla and SpaceX businesses.

He is of course well versed in online payment systems, having the email payment and online financial services company he co-founded called X.com acquired by PayPal in the year 2000.

He subsequently went on to become the CEO of PayPal before being ousted in October 2000 due to issues with other leaders in the company. When the company was sold to eBay in 2002, Musk was the largest shareholder, with 11.7% of the company’s shares and he received approximately $165 million through this sale.

With this background in payment services, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to imagine Musk incorporating some form of blockchain technology or digital token into how his current businesses operate or even as a separate entity.

He does have somewhat of a small track record in the cryptocurrency space as an investor. He revealed that he has only owned 0.25 bitcoin that a friend gave him years ago. At the time of writing, this was worth approximately $2,330 which is not exactly a significant investment for a person with Musk’s net worth.

However, this does not mean that he doesn’t believe in blockchain technology or cryptocurrencies as a whole, so it will be interesting to watch what related moves, if any, he makes in the future.

Featured image from Flickr/OnInnovation.

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Bank For International Settlements Distances Itself From Centralized Digital Currencies

A new joint European banking report has poured cold water on the effectiveness of so-called central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

The report, submitted by two working groups under the auspices of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and European Central Bank (ECB), warns about the “adverse” effect of introducing a CBDC.

It also advocates that banks and other authorities “continue their broad monitoring” of digital currencies outside centralized control such as Bitcoin.

“Any steps towards the possible launch of a CBDC should be subject to careful and thorough consideration. Further research on the possible effects on interest rates, the structure of intermediation, financial stability and financial supervision is warranted,” its authors conclude.

“The effects on movements in exchange rates and other asset prices remain largely unknown and also deserve further exploration.”

In separate comments on the report’s findings, ECB and BIS executives Benoît Cœuré and Jacqueline Loh said that decentralized digital currency, specifically Bitcoin, was “not the answer to the cashless economy.”

The hands-off approach to CBDCs further broadens the divide between the EU and other countries’ central banks on the concept.

Russia, Venezuela, the Marshall Islands, Cambodia, Turkey and Iran are conversely issuing or at least sympathetic to the concept of state-issued cryptocurrency.

“ASAP”: China is Working Toward National Blockchain Standards

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China’s industry & IT ministry is working toward creating domestic standards to propel development and implementation of blockchain technology in the country.

In an announcement on an official government website yesterday, China’s ministry of industry and information technology revealed it has already conducted a ‘special study’ exploring a framework for standardizing blockchain technology domestically. The process has seen the Ministry’s information and software services division and the China Electronics Standardization Institute propose a new technical committee to be established.

As things stand, China is a part of the technical committee TC 307 under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) alongside 30 other participating countries working toward international standards for blockchain technology. As reported previously, the ISO appointed Australia to lead the international effort which now sees 7 ISO blockchain standards under development.

Acknowledging China’s participation in the ISO endeavor, the IT ministry claimed “positive progress” in researching standards for core blockchain facets including identity authentication and smart contracts. The need for a “complete blockchain standard system” domestically, China’s IT ministry explains, means it is necessary to work and develop the country’s own effort to introduce standards “as soon as possible.”

The Ministry also said its IT and software services division will look to promote blockchain technology, fast-track the establishment of the blockchain standardization committee and back the development of the sector in the country overall.

The embracive stance toward blockchain technology is in stark contrast to China’s crippling curbs against local cryptocurrency markets which has seen initial coin offerings (ICOs) outlawed and crypto exchanges phased out to effectively shutter domestic trading markets. Blockchain technology has also been under the spotlight on China’s biggest political stage, the Two Sessions, in recent days. One politician even called for a national digital asset trading platform over a blockchain that would be overseen by the central bank and other authorities. Another official from major Chinese regulatory agency called for a “decentralized [blockchain] system based on a centralized structure.”

China joins the likes of Russia in publicly revealing an effort toward developing standards for blockchain and distributed ledger technologies [DLT].

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CBOE Director For Product Development Talks Successes Of Bitcoin Futures And Looking At Other Coins

In the lead up to Dec. 10 last year, there was a massive crypto rally that many feel was catalyzed by the announcement that Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) would be launching Bitcoin futures.

They were heralded as a melding of the crypto investment space and the traditional spheres. Now, those in Wall Street would be able to enter the Bitcoin space with a familiar product.

A few months after the futures have launched, it is probably a good time to check in and see how this product has worked out at CBOE.

Dennis O’Callahan, CBOE’s director for product development, spoke to Cointelegraph recently at the QUANT Conference in Venice, about how things have been going in the few months since futures have been available through CBOE.

Cointelegraph: Hi Dennis, thanks for taking the time. Let’s start at the beginning, what was it that made you decide to pursue Bitcoin futures as a potential product for CBOE?

Dennis O’Callahan: I am in product at CBOE, so my sole role at this company is to develop products and bring products to market. We monitor all spaces, including the cryptocurrency space, and we have been looking at it since about 2014 or so, looking for ways that we could get involved in this market. We have been looking at the Blockchain itself, and cryptocurrencies themselves, so we have been looking for a long time, but never found a way that we were comfortable with until last year in March, when we looked at this particular design that we have. It is still an ongoing process.

CT: You were not the only ones to come out with Bitcoin futures in December, but you were the first, how did it come about that you launched at a similar time as CME, and have you kept much of an eye on their product?

DO: We had been talking to our regulators, the CFTC, since about May or June of 2017. So we have been in the process for quite some time. In August we put out a press release that we were exploring this market, and at that time we still had not heard of any other exchanges involved in this market, so we were well on our way to having this product before we even heard that CME was looking at this space. We were the first to market because we had been working on it for quite some time. We are happy with the way our product is running and we are very comfortable with it, but we do look at the competition. Still, we are satisfied with the product design.

Regulations and hype

CT: What about that regulatory minefield that is often associated with cryptocurrencies, how was it negotiating the rules in order to get a product out that was totally above board?

DO: The CFTC want the same things that we want, we want a fair and orderly market, and we want a market that is not open to manipulation or anything untoward. They asked us questions, very good and insightful questions, they challenged us on points and we answered their questions. It was a process but we are very comfortable with their knowledge of the market. It probably took longer than most products which we can just certify and launch, we actually went to them to make sure that they were comfortable with the product before we were determined to launch.

CT: With the massive hype leading up to the launch of futures, have they matched that now, and, are you happy with the product, would you consider it a success?

DO: We have seen a lot of interest, especially retail interest, by some retail firms. We are trading almost 7,000 contracts per day, so we are very happy with the progress of this product. We like what we have done, and we are pleased with the progress the product has made.

Our goal is to make sure we are doing everything we can to make the product as accessible to users as possible. We believe we are heading in that direction, so we are pleased with the results so far.

Monitoring other markets

CT: As the director of product development, what else have you got your eye on when it comes to the cryptocurrency market, and different products that are out there. Is there any inside scoop you can give us on what CBOE has its eye on?

DO: Being in product development our task is to look for new products all the time, so we are constantly evaluating that market, and we are evaluating other cryptocurrencies too, among other items. But we have seen how Bitcoin has worked, so we are definitely monitoring other markets to make sure that the infrastructure and everything is in place in case we want to pursue other cryptocurrencies.

South Korea Regulators Considering Reversal of ICO Ban: Report

Cryptocurrency Korea
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Nearly six months after a blanket ban on ICO (initial coin offering) fundraising, South Korean regulators are reportedly planning to allow ICOs, under certain conditions.

South Korea’s financial regulator and watchdog first banned initial coin offerings in late September 2017, citing concerns about fraud as a means to ultimately protect investors.  The restrictive curbs came within weeks of China’s own blanket ban on initial coin offerings earlier that month. A new report from a mainstream Korean publication, however, could see Korean financial authorities formulate a plan to allow ICOs for domestic investors.

Citing an anonymous source, the Korea Times is reporting discussions between financial authorities who are preparing to allow ICOs under certain conditions that are yet to be revealed.

The source, who is the publication claims is familiar with discussions, stated:

“The financial authorities have been talking to the country’s tax agency, justice ministry and other relevant government offices about a plan to allow ICOs in Korea when certain conditions are met.”

The current regulatory climate for cryptocurrencies and adopters in Korea is a markedly different from widely-reported whispers – since December – of a possible ban on cryptocurrency trading in the country. The government has since moved to ban anonymous crypto trading while adopting an encouraging stance in recent weeks. Throughout it all, Korean authorities haven’t crippled investors from investing in foreign ICOs despite outlawing the fundraising model domestically.

Financial Services Commission (FSC) official Kang Young-soo, in charge of cryptocurrency trading policies at the country’s primary financial regulator, revealed the authority hasn’t yet made a call on allowing domestic investors and companies to participate in ICOs.

“There are many speculating about the possibility of allowing ICOs,” the official told the publication. “The FSC has acknowledged a third-party view regarding the issue, but there’s nothing that we can say officially at the moment.”

The news follows previous remarks by FSC vice-chairman Kim Yong-beom hinting at backtracking from the sweeping ban, if only to allow institutional investors to take part in ICO fundraising while keeping it away from “regular citizens how are not informed of its technology and complicity.” However, today’s report suggests that the rules could be eased to allow both professional and retail domestic investors partake in ICOs.

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Real Estate Consultant Wealth Report Shows Customers Exposed More To Gold Than To Crypto

The 2018 Wealth Report from Knight Frank, a global real estate consultant firm, has found that their clients have been exposed to cryptocurrencies the least out of all the assets surveyed, ranking lower than gold.

A chart from the Knight Frank Attitudes Survey shows the percentage of clients who only experienced an increase in exposure to certain assets, which puts cryptocurrencies below gold at 21 percent.

Asset rich

However, in response to the survey question, “How has your clients’ exposure to the following investments changed over the past 12 months?” the global average for exposure to cryptocurrencies is 16 percent, while the global average for exposure to gold and to bonds is less at 15 percent and 6 percent respectively.

Although Bitcoin (BTC) has sometimes been referred to as “digital gold,” the World Gold Council sees the main differences between the two assets as BTC’s lower “day-to-day liquidity” and gold’s diverse uses and application in the jewelry industry, as well as the tech industry and central banks.

Chart

The percent measures the difference between those who reported an increase in exposure versus those who reported a decrease.

According to the data, the region with the highest exposure to cryptocurrencies is Latin America, at 33 percent, which may be accounted for by rising hyperinflation in Venezuela’s economy. This hyperinflation may be leading to the “Bitcoinization” of Venezuela, as more Venezuelans have turned to crypto as opposed to using the Bolivar, whose total value at one point last fall was only equal to 50 percent of the virtual gold in World of Warcraft.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has tried to capitalize on the popularity of crypto in his country, launching a state-backed coin, the Petro, in the end of February to uncertain fanfare.

The region with the lowest average increase in exposure to cryptocurrencies is Asia at 5 percent. The lack of exposure could be attributed to the crypto bans currently in effect in China, such as the ban of domestic exchanges, foreign exchanges, as well as Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). South Korea, which is well known for the high public use of cryptocurrencies, also implemented a crypto ban of anonymous trading on cryptocurrency exchanges this year.

The Knight Frank Wealth report also contains an article on Blockchain’s potential to revolutionize property markets. Countries all over the world have already begun using Blockchain for real estate, with the Swedish government land registry set to soon conduct its first Blockchain property transaction. In America, a real estate Blockchain pilot program in Vermont has already completed the US’s first all-Blockchain real estate transaction.

The wealth report also asks about Knight Frank clients’ views on Blockchain technology, with the majority answer for the global average of respondents as “doubt many of my clients have heard of Blockchain.” 4 percent as the global average responded, “Blockchain is already having a tangible impact,” with Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) tied with North America at 8 percent.

Chart

Knight Frank has 370 offices across 55 countries, managing over $817 bln worth of properties ranging from commercial and residential to agricultural.

Votem Announces Its Partnership with Civic to Bring the First-Ever Decentralized KYC Process to the VAST Token Public Presale

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This is a paid-for submitted press release. CCN does not endorse, nor is responsible for any material included below and isn’t responsible for any damages or losses connected with any products or services mentioned in the press release. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned in the press release.

12 March 2018

CLEVELAND, OHIO USA

Votem, the blockchain-based mobile voting platform, has announced a partnership with Civic to launch the first-ever decentralized KYC process ever. Civic is a blockchain identity-verification technology that allows consumers to authorize the use of their identities in real time.  The partnership brings trusted identity services to Votem, enabling a secure and transparent pre-sale, without the risks and costs associated with collecting and storing personal identity information.

Votem will leverage Civic’s technology to guarantee the identities of accredited investors participating in the sale of Secure Agreements for Future Tokens (SAFT) for their VAST Token.

Built on Ethereum as an EIP-20 token, The VAST token will enable users to cast and store votes on the blockchain. The VAST Token will provide secure and role-based access to the following standard features on the Votem Platform:

  • Contest (Election) Creation & Set-Up
  • Voter Access and/or Registration
  • Simple Ballot Creation & Marking
  • Ballot Submission/Validation/Storage
  • Tallying and Results Reporting (with Audit Capabilities)

“Votem is honored to innovate and partner with Civic around the KYC process for our presale. We believe this will set a new standard for token sales and are honored to be working with them in this regard. We also think this sets the groundwork for a long-term strategic partnership around the secure and accurate authentication of voters since we share a common vision of making voting more secure, accessible and verifiable. Votem was founded to improve free and fair elections around the globe and with our partnership with Civic, we know that we have a solid partner to help us achieve our mission.”

-Votem CEO Pete Martin

“We are pleased to welcome Votem to Civic’s Partner Network and provide the first-ever solution for token sales and ICOs to provide reusable KYC services. This collaboration marks another milestone for Civic’s ecosystem and for on-demand, secure and low-cost access to identity verification services. This partnership is especially impactful, not only because it is the first CVC-powered KYC, but because Votem also falls squarely in line with Civic’s long-term vision of bringing decentralized democracy to life through blockchain technology. With Civic and Votem coming together, fair and secure digital voting starts now.”

-Civic CTO Jonathan Smith

To find out more about Votem’s public presale or to register as an accredited investor, please visit www.votem.io and join the official telegram channel.

About Votem

Votem® is a blockchain-based mobile voting platform enabling citizens around the world to easily vote online with an unprecedented level of verifiability, accessibility, security and transparency. Founded in 2014, Votem is on a full out offensive in order to change the way we vote and believes that mobile voting will create positive change in the world by bringing modern voting to the world. Votem has more than 8.2 million votes on its blockchain platform. Votem has received praise and accolades from various institutions including the Cleveland Technology Awards and OHTech Best of Tech Awards.

About Civic

Civic is a visionary blockchain identity-verification technology that allows consumers to authorize the use of their identities in real time. They are spearheading the development of an ecosystem that is designed to facilitate on-demand, secure, and low-cost access to identity-verification services via the blockchain. Civic recently introduced a Civic token that participants in the ecosystem will use to provide and receive identity-verification-related services. The company sold $33 million of its tokens during its token sale event in June 2017. For more information, visit https://www.civic.com.

For Votem Media Enquiries, please contact [email protected]

For Civic Media Enquiries, please contact [email protected]

Bitcoin Price Nears $10,000 Again As Markets Battle Mt. Gox Maneuvers

Bitcoin (BTC) has gained $1200 in 24 hours March 12 as markets shake off the weekend’s slump below $8500.

Data from major exchanges including Bitstamp, Coinbase and Bitfinex put BTC/USD at around four-day highs of $9810.

BTC

The uptick, which amounts to a price increase of 15.5% since Saturday, continues Bitcoin’s pattern of behavior traders have seen since February.

Moves upwards and downwards between around $11,800 and $8500 – with one exception of a brief drop to $5900 – have defined BTC/USD in recent weeks.

Analysts had predicted that further sustained upside would be possible only if markets cleared significant resistance around $12,000 and closed above $12,400.

News last week that Mt. Gox trustees were selling huge amounts of Bitcoin to reimburse creditors altered the outlook, however, as it emerged each sale had triggered price decreases across international markets.

The stock of coins is not yet fully sold, with the prospect of further repeated fluctuations on the horizon.

Within the cryptocurrency industry, however, bullish sentiment remains strong.

Fundstrat Global Advisors’ Tom Lee, himself well known for championing Bitcoin, unveiled a ‘Bitcoin Misery Index’ March 9, a tool which flashed a ‘buy’ signal to markets and swiftly saw the start of the 15.5% climb.

Talking about the Mt. Gox issue, Lee was relaxed and urged calm.

It’s a short-term concern, but it doesn’t change anything,” he told Barron’s the day of the release.

‘Bitcoin Misery Index’ Indicates Now is A Good Time To Buy

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The “bitcoin misery index” created by Wall Street strategist Thomas Lee indicates this is a good time to buy bitcoin, according to CNBC. Lee has not changed his midyear price target of $20,000 and his end year price target of $25,000 for bitcoin.

Lee, co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors, told CNBC’s “Fast Money” Friday that when the bitcoin misery index falls below 27, bitcoin sees its best 12-month performance. Such a signal comes about every year, the strategist said.

Lowest Index Since September 2011

The index now stands at 18.8 on a scale of 100, making its lowest point since Sept. 6, 2011.
Lee said the index offers a way to measure how happy or said you are owning bitcoin.

The index is intended as a contrarian indicator. When it is low, investors should buy. When it is high, they should sell. The index accounts for the number of winning trades from the total trades. It also accounts for volatility.

At the end of last week, bitcoin’s price fell 24 percent from its Monday high following reports about rising regulatory scrutiny.

The low points signify pain, even though they are short-term signals. Long-term, Lee said the low points could point to a great entry way into bitcoin.

What Past Patterns Foretell

The last four times the index fell below 27 on the bitcoin misery index, bitcoin never failed to rise 12 months later, Lee said.

Last week was a tough one for bitcoin. A major Hong Kong exchange reported on Wednesday that some accounts might have been compromised. At the same time, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission increased its scrutiny of cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges. On Thursday, Japan suspended two cryptocurrency exchanges from operating for a month and called for business improvements at five other exchanges.

It was also reported Wednesday that the trustee of the now defunct Mt. Gox exchange sold about $400 million worth of bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

Bitcoin traded more than 3.5 percent lower Friday morning, around $8,900. While it remains more than 800 percent higher than where it was a year ago, it has lost more than 50 percent from its record high of more than $19,000 in mid-December.

Lee said it is very uncommon to be this unhappy owning bitcoin. The last such periods were November of 2012, September of 2016 and January of 2015.

In each case, bitcoin was higher in the following month.

Also read: Strategist Tom Lee predicts new all-time highs for bitcoin in July

Lee: Hold On One To Three Weeks

Lee said the index is telling people to wait it out for the next one or two or three weeks.

He is the only major Wall Street strategist to issue regular bitcoin reports and formal price targets. Prior to co-founding Fundstrat, he was chief equity strategist at J.P. Morgan Chase.

Lee maintained his midyear price target of $20,000 and his end year price target of $25,000 for bitcoin.

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Former Indian Gov’t Official Shaktikanta Das: Crypto “Should Not Be Allowed At All”

Shaktikanta Das, former Secretary of Economic Affairs of India, who is currently a member of the 15th Finance Commission, claimed in an interview with Quartz India that cryptocurrencies should be banned since it is impossible “to regulate [them] effectively,” as reported on March 12.

Das, a retired officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), has participated in the development of India’s cryptocurrency regulations as a member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In April 2017, Das headed the first government panel aiming to formulate cryptocurrency regulations for the country.

According to Das, the main problem with cryptocurrencies is that they are not backed by any assets. In an interview with Quartz, Das unfavorably compared shares that represent the value of a real company to cryptocurrency assets that are “created out of vacuum” and “thin air.” Das argued that RBI is the only body that is legally allowed to issue currency in India, hence digital currencies are illegal.

Shaktikanta Das concluded that there is no way to regulate cryptocurrency “effectively,” and that is why it “should not be allowed at all.”

“Let us accept that it would not be possible to regulate it effectively. Because they will do transactions from their houses. You cannot enter every home to check what transactions are going on. So, I think this is a serious challenge, and this should not be allowed at all.”

On the other hand, some experts from India believe that the full ban on cryptocurrency would only bring more problems. Anirudh Rastogi, the managing partner at the TRA law firm, said to Quartz that enforcing a ban would make tracking cryptocurrency transactions even harder for the government.

Rastogi also claims that India cannot simply ban cryptocurrencies when “two or three of the largest economies are giving it legitimacy,” because that would make the country “an outlier”, which, in turn, will “have an adverse impact” on the financial system.

The government of India has taken a negative stance towards cryptocurrencies in recent months. On Feb. 28, cryptocurrency exchanges BTCXIndia and ETHEXIndia halted trading activities, reportedly resulting from government pressure.

Back in 2017, India’s Ministry of Finance claimed that Bitcoin and the other digital currencies are “like Ponzi schemes” and warned investors about the high risks of getting involved in cryptocurrencies.