Bitcoin, Inflation and the Misguided Fear of Government Money Creation

Bitcoin can’t solve a problem we don’t actually have.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #bitcoin-currency, #currency, #economics-theory-and-philosophy, #inflation-economics, #interest-rates, #internal-sub-only-nl, #international-trade-and-world-market, #united-states-economy, #united-states-politics-and-government, #us-dollar-currency

Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Woman on a Quarter

The coins featuring the writer and poet, which began shipping this week, are the first in a series that will commemorate female pioneers in a variety of fields.

#angelou-maya, #currency, #numismatics, #united-states-mint, #women-and-girls

Cashing In Grandma’s Gold Coins, a Turkish Family Struggles to Get By

As inflation soars and the value of Turkey’s currency plummets, one couple described how working families can’t make ends meet and have had to cut back on basic necessities as well as life’s smaller pleasures.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #credit-and-debt, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #inflation-economics, #istanbul-turkey, #politics-and-government, #turkey

Turkish Currency Hits a New Low, Again

The Central Bank has cut interest rates, even as inflation continues to soar, deepening President Erdogan’s disputed economic plan and setting off a new plunge in the lira.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #inflation-economics, #interest-rates, #politics-and-government, #turkey

How Inflation Affects Turkey’s Struggling Economy

Even before the pandemic, Turkey was trying to ward off financial meltdown. The crisis has accelerated as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has doubled down on his unorthodox policies.

#currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #foreign-investments, #inflation-economics, #interest-rates, #international-trade-and-world-market, #politics-and-government, #recession-and-depression, #turkey, #unemployment

Cash Is Out. Crypto Is In. Can We Trust What’s Happening to Money?

It’s not just about the demise of coins and dollar bills. It’s also about society’s faith in the very idea of money.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #bitcoin-currency, #currency, #united-states-economy

Turkey’s President Follows His Own Advice Even as Economy Slips

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is increasingly isolated as he clings to an economic prescription that few endorse but that he believes will bear results before elections.

#currency, #davutoglu-ahmet, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #inflation-economics, #interest-rates, #karamollaoglu-temel, #nationalist-movement-party-turkey, #politics-and-government, #polls-and-public-opinion, #republican-peoples-party-turkey, #turkey

‘Our Money Has No Value’: Frustration Rises in Turkey at Lira Crisis

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s insistence on directing monetary policy and sticking with low interest rates is draining confidence, economists say.

#currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #nationalist-movement-party-turkey, #politics-and-government

A physicist studied Ben Franklin’s clever tricks to foil currency counterfeiters

Nuclear physicists used micro-XRF scanning to produce elemental maps for Roman denarii coins and their color overlays.

Enlarge / Nuclear physicists used micro-XRF scanning to produce elemental maps for Roman denarii coins and their color overlays. (credit: K.V. Manukyan et al., 2019)

Most people associate nuclear physics with the atomic bomb or nuclear power plants, and those associations are often negative. Michael Wiescher, a nuclear physicist at the University of Notre Dame, wants to change that perception by applying his expertise—and some of his sophisticated imaging hardware—to research that bridges science, history, and culture. His work in this area has included collaborations to analyze a rare medieval manuscript and unearth currency fraud and forgery throughout history, most notably in ancient Rome and Colonial America. He recently described those efforts at a virtual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Nuclear Physics.

Much of this work was conducted in conjunction with undergraduate students in physics, chemistry, art restoration, history, and anthropology as part of a course Wiescher teaches at Notre Dame on physics-based methods and techniques in art and archaeology. In the process, students can get certified as operators of a broad range of advanced physics-based instruments and techniques. These include Raman spectrometers, transmission electron microscopes (TEM), a 3MV tandem accelerator, handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) scanners, micro-XRF scanners, and X-ray diffractometers, among others.

The course covers such topics as nondestructive analysis of the paintings of Vermeer and the Archimedes palimpsest; tracking the inks used by medieval scribes for illuminated manuscripts; whether the Vinland map is real or a forgery (it was recently conclusively shown to be fake); using studies of the Shroud of Turin to discuss uncertainties in carbon dating; and reviewing how Luis Alvarez once used cosmic rays to search for hidden chambers in Egyptian pyramids in the 1960s.

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#continental-currency, #currency, #electron-microscopy, #gaming-culture, #history, #nuclear-physics, #particle-induced-x-ray-emission, #roman-denarii, #science, #x-ray-fluorescence

Banks Tried to Kill Crypto and Failed. Now They’re Embracing It (Slowly).

Digital payments technology is forcing the financial system to evolve. Banks feel their power waning and want to regain control.

#american-bankers-assn, #bank-of-america-corporation, #bank-of-new-york-mellon-corporation, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #bitcoin-currency, #blockchain-technology, #cohen-h-rodgin, #currency, #dimon-james, #el-salvador, #federal-reserve-system, #jpmorgan-chasecompany, #montag-thomas-k, #moynihan-brian-t, #new-york-city, #northern-trust-corporation, #office-of-the-comptroller-of-the-currency, #sullivancromwell, #us-bancorp, #us-dollar-currency, #virtual-currency

What a Trillion-Dollar Coin Can Teach Us

It may be a gimmick, but it raises profound issues about the nature of money.

#currency, #economics-theory-and-philosophy, #internal-sub-only, #national-debt-us, #treasury-department, #yellen-janet-l

In Global First, El Salvador Adopts Bitcoin as Currency

President Nayib Bukele has promoted the cryptocurrency as a path to financial freedom, but economic experts and many Salvadorans worry the move brings great risks.

#bitcoin-currency, #bukele-nayib, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #el-salvador, #latin-america

Lebanon’s Economy Has Collapsed. And So Has Our Way of Life.

The standards by which “normal” or “acceptable” living conditions are measured have long been discarded.

#batteries, #beirut-lebanon, #computer-network-outages, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #economic-crisis, #food-contamination-and-poisoning, #fuel-shortages, #heat-and-heat-waves, #international-trade-and-world-market, #lebanon, #shortages, #shutdowns-institutional, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #water

Why the Taliban Desperately Need Cash to Run Afghanistan

The group has long tapped underground banks and opium to fund Afghanistan’s insurgency. Fixing the nation’s problems will require a lot more than that.

#afghanistan, #afghanistan-war-2001, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #food-insecurity, #foreign-aid, #hawala, #opium, #poverty, #smuggling, #taliban

The former Afghan central bank chief says the Taliban can’t access most of country’s reserves.

Ajmal Ahmady said the central bank had $9 billion in international reserves, including $7 billion at the Federal Reserve. The Biden administration has frozen the assets in U.S. banks.

#afghanistan, #ahmady-ajmal, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #currency, #da-afghanistan-bank, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #federal-reserve-system, #politics-and-government, #taliban, #treasury-department, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

My Strange Journey in the Crypto World Creating a Hype Coin

I created a hype coin to show how risky an investment can be. The coin had other plans.

#currency, #london-england, #new-york-times, #securities-and-exchange-commission, #virtual-currency

World Bank slams bitcoin, declines to help El Salvador’s cryptocurrency plan

World Bank slams bitcoin, declines to help El Salvador’s cryptocurrency plan

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Last week, El Salvador’s government passed a law to accept bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar. The country receives $6 billion in remittances per year—nearly a quarter of its gross domestic product—and the hope is that bitcoin’s lower transaction costs could boost that amount by a few percentage points.

The move was first proposed by the country’s president, Nayib Bukele, who said he hoped that in addition to facilitating lower remittance fees, the bitcoin plan would attract investment and provide an avenue for savings for residents, about 70 percent of whom are unbanked. (What Bukele didn’t say, but what Bloomberg has reported, is that he and members of his political party have owned bitcoin for years.)

Adding the cryptocurrency to the roster isn’t a simple task, though, and the new law gives the country just three months to roll the plan out nationwide. No country has ever used bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency as legal tender, and challenges abound. To address those concerns, El Salvador turned to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for assistance; the latter is currently considering a $1.3 billion financing request from the country.

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#bitcoin, #cryptocurrency, #currency, #el-salvador, #imf, #policy, #world-bank

Bitcoin now legal tender in El Salvador, first nation to adopt cryptocurrency

El Salvador now says both US dollars and bitcoin are legal tender.

Enlarge / El Salvador now says both US dollars and bitcoin are legal tender. (credit: Thomas Trutschel / Getty Images News)

On Wednesday, El Salvador’s president signed into law a proposal to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, making the Central American nation the first in the world to officially use the cryptocurrency.

The new law says that companies must accept bitcoin as a form of payment, and the government will allow people to pay taxes with it as well. The exchange rate with the dollar will be set by the market, and exchanges from dollars to bitcoin won’t be subject to capital gains tax. The law was passed by a supermajority vote of the legislature, with 62 of 84 deputies assenting.

President Nayib Bukele said the new law would make it easier for Salvadorans living abroad to send remittances back to friends and family in the country. Some $6 billion in remittances flowed into the Salvadoran economy last year, accounting for nearly a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. Around 70 percent of Salvadorans lack access to traditional banking and other financial services within the country, the president said. The 39-year-old leader hopes that sending remittances will become cheaper, too. Last year, the average fee was 3 percent per transaction. Eliminating that fee would net Salvadorans an additional $180 million.

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#bitcoin, #central-bank, #cryptocurrency, #currency, #el-salvador, #policy

China Moves to Tame Inflation Before Prices Rise Too Much

Rising costs at its factories could trickle out into the rest of the world economy.

#china, #consumer-behavior, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #factories-and-manufacturing, #inflation-economics, #international-trade-and-world-market, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #renminbi-currency, #stockpiling, #united-states-economy, #us-dollar-currency

Krugman Asks: Does the U.S. Dollar’s Dominance Really Matter?

The irrelevance of dollar dominance. 

#bitcoin-currency, #currency, #money-laundering, #united-states, #us-dollar-currency

A Conversation With a Dogecoin Millionaire

It was once a parody — then he turned the cryptocurrency into his profit.

#currency, #dogecoin-project, #musk-elon, #virtual-currency

Maya Angelou and Sally Ride Will Be Honored on Quarters

The coins are part of a new U.S. Mint program that will feature as many as 20 American women.

#angelou-maya, #currency, #numismatics, #ride-sally-k, #united-states-mint, #women-and-girls

Crypto market takes a dive with Bitcoin leading the way

Cryptocurrency prices continued to tumble Friday with Bitcoin leading the charge, with prices for the internet currency dipping below $50,000 for the first time since early March.

Bitcoin is down roughly 20% week-over-week, around 30% from its all-time-high of nearly $65,000 early last week. The market cap of the coin has dipped below $1 trillion. The tumble has been less severe for Ethereum which hit an all-time-high just yesterday but has since dropped 13% as the broader market has crawled back.

Plenty of altcoins have also taken a beating. Dogecoin erased the breakneck gains of the week and then some, nearly halving its price after a meteoric climb last weekend. XRP is down 35% week-over-week, Stellar is down 30% and Polkadot is down 25% since last week.

Overall, Coinmarketcap estimates the global crypto market has shrunk around 10% in the past 24 hours.

Crypto prices have been on a tear for the past several months, but the past week has been the clearest sign of a correction to climbing prices, though many see news of President Biden’s adjustment to the hikes on the capital gains tax as the most apparent reason for the market’s slide as investors cash out hoping their gains won’t be reached by a retroactive application of the rules.

Coinbase, which went public last week via direct listing, shaved about 10% off its share price this week, but was largely unaffected Friday in intraday trading.

Bitcoin prices (7 days). Chart via CoinMarketCap

#biden, #bitcoin, #coinbase, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #currency, #dogecoin, #ethereum, #president

Robert A. Mundell, a Father of the Euro and Reaganomics, Dies at 88

His insights on global finance earned him a Nobel, while his more iconoclastic theories fostered the adoption of a single European currency and supply-side economics.

#canada, #colleges-and-universities, #currency, #deaths-obituaries, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #europe, #international-trade-and-world-market, #mundell-robert, #nobel-prizes, #united-states-economy

Restoring Islamic Coins to Reveal the Past

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is working on what it has named the Hoard of Jazira, more than 2,800 pieces of the region’s history.

#collectors-and-collections, #currency, #louvre-abu-dhabi, #museums, #muslims-and-islam, #restoration-and-renovation

China’s New Rules Worry Foreign Banks and Companies

New rules, aimed at taming big money flows and possibly controlling the Chinese currency, could give domestic rivals a competitive edge and make international firms more dependent on local lenders.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #china, #credit-and-debt, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #foreign-investments, #international-relations, #international-trade-and-world-market, #politics-and-government, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #renminbi-currency, #stocks-and-bonds, #united-states-international-relations

Elon Musk declares you can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin in the U.S.

Tesla made headlines earlier this year when it took out significant holdings in bitcoin, acquiring a roughly $1.5 billion stake at then-prices in early February. At the time, it also noted in an SEC filing disclosing the transaction that it could also eventually accept the cryptocurrency as payment from customers for its vehicles. Now, Elon Musk says they’ve made that a reality, at least for customers in the U.S., and he added that the plan is for the automaker to ‘hodl’ all their bitcoin payments, too.

In terms of its infrastructure for accepting bitcoin payments, Tesla isn’t relying on any third-party networks or wallets — the company is “using only internal & open source software & operates Bitcoin nodes directly,” Musk said on Twitter. And when customers pay in bitcoin, those won’t be converted to fiat currency, the CEO says, but will instead presumably add to the company’s stockpile.

In February when Tesla revealed its bitcoin purchase, observers either lauded the company’s novel approach to converting its cash holdings, or criticized the plan for its attachment to an asset with significant price volatility. Many also pointed out that the environmental cost of mining bitcoin seems at odds with Tesla’s overall stated mission, given its carbon footprint. Commenters today echoed these concerns, noting the irony of Tesla accepting the grid-taxing cryptocurrency for its all-electric cars.

As for how the bitcoin payment process works today, Tesla has detailed that in an FAQ. Customers begin the payment process from their own bitcoin wallet, and have to set the exact amount for a vehicle deposit based on current rates, with the value of Tesla’s cars still set in U.S. dollars. The automaker further notes that in the case of any refunds, it’s buyer-beware in terms of any change in value relative to the U.S. dollar from time of purchase to time of refund.

Musk also said that the plan is to expand Bitcoin payments to other countries outside the U.S. by “later this year.” Depending on the market, that could require some regulatory work, but clearly Musk thinks it’s worth the effort. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is up slightly on the news early Wednesday morning.

#bitcoin, #car, #ceo, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptography, #currency, #digital-currencies, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #mining, #mobility, #open-source-software, #tc, #tesla, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission, #united-states

Crypto social network BitClout arrives with a bevy of high profile investors, and skeptics

While much of the recent wave of relentless hype around NFTs — or non-fungible tokens — has been most visibly manifested in high-dollar art auctions or digital trading cards sales, there’s also been a relentless string of chatter among bullish investors who see a future that ties the tokens to the future of social media and creator monetization.

Much of the most spirited conversations have centered on a pre-launch project called BitClout, a social crypto-exchange where users can buy and sell tokens based on people’s reputations. The app, which launches out of private beta tomorrow morning, has already courted plenty of controversy inside the crypto community, but it’s also amassed quite a war chest as investors pump tens of millions into its proprietary currency.

Early backers of the platform’s BitClout currency include a who’s who of Silicon Valley investors including Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, the startup’s founder tells TechCrunch. Other investors include Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Winklevoss Capital and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. A report in Decrypt notes that a single wallet connected to BitClout has received more than $165 million worth of Bitcoin deposits suggesting that huge sums have already poured into the network ahead of its public launch.

BitClout falls into an exploding category of crypto companies that are focusing on tokenized versions of social currency. Others working on building out these individual tokens include Roll and Rally, which aim to allow creators to directly monetize their internet presence and allow their fans to bet on them. Users who believe in a budding artist can invest in their social currency and could earn returns as the creator became more famous and their coins accrued more value.

“If you look at people’s existing relationships with social media companies, it’s this very adversarial thing where all the content they produce is not really theirs but it belongs to the corporation that doesn’t share the monetization with them,” BitClout’s founder, who refers to themselves pseudonymously as “diamondhands,” tells TechCrunch. (There’s been some speculation on their identity as a former founder in the cryptocurrency space, but in a call with TechCrunch, they would not confirm their identity.)

The BitClout platform revolves around the BitClout currency. At the moment users can deposit Bitcoin into the platform which is instantly converted to BitClout tokens and can then be spent on individual creators inside the network. When a creator gets more popular as more users buy their coin, it gets more expensive to buy denominations of their coin. Creators can also opt in to receive a certain percentage of transactions deposited into their own BitClout wallets so that they continue to benefit from their own success.

The company’s biggest point of controversy hinges on what has been opt-in and what has been opt-out for the early group of accounts on the platform. Most other social currency offerings are strictly opt-in. Users come to the platform in search of a way to create tokens that allow them to monetize a fanbase and build a social fabric across multiple platforms. The thought being that if the platforms own the audience then you are at their mercy.

BitClout has taken an aggressive growth strategy here, turning that model on its head. The startup has pre-populated the BitClout network with 15,000 accounts after scraping information from popular public Twitter profiles. This means that BitClout users can buy shares of Kim Kardashian’s social coin or Elon Musk’s without those individuals ever having signed up for a profile or agreeing to it. This hasn’t been well-received by all of those who unwittingly had accounts set up on their behalf including many crypto-savvy users who got scooped up in the initial wave of seeding.

The startup’s founder says that this effort was largely an effort to prevent handle squatting and user impersonation but he believes that as the platform opens, a sizable pre-purchase of creator coins reserved for the owners of these accounts will entice those users to verify their handles to claim the funds.

Perhaps BitClout’s most eyebrow raising quirk is that the platform is launching with a way to invest into the platform and convert bitcoin into BitClout, but at launch there’s no way to cash out funds. The project’s founder says that it’s only a matter of time before this is resolved, and points to Coinbase and the Winkelvoss twin’s status as coin holders as a sign of future exchange support to come, but the company has no specifics to share at launch.

While the founders and investors behind the project see a bright future for social currencies on the blockchain, many in the decentralized community have been less impressed with BitClout’s early efforts to achieve viral adoption among creators in a permission-less manner.

“BitClout will make a great case study on how badly crypto projects can mess up incentive engineering when they try to monetize social networks.” Jay Graber, a decentralized platform researcher involved in Twitter’s bluesky effort, said in a tweet. “Trust and reputation are key, and if you create a sketchy platform and mess with people’s reputations without their consent it is not going to go well.”

If BitClout comes out of the gate and manages to convert enough of its pre-seeded early adopter list that there is value in joining its closed ecosystem version of a social token then it may have strong early momentum in an explosive new space that many creators are finding valuable. The concepts explored by others in the social currency space are sound, but this particular execution of it is a high-risk one. The network launches tomorrow morning so we’ll see soon enough.

#alexis-ohanian, #andreessen-horowitz, #artist, #bitclout, #bitcoin, #co-founder, #coinbase, #coinbase-ventures, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #currency, #digital-currencies, #gemini, #kim-kardashian, #reddit, #sequoia-capital, #social-media, #social-networks, #tc, #winklevoss-capital

Lebanon’s Financial Collapse Hits Where It Hurts: The Grocery Store

The country’s currency has sunk to a new low against the dollar, sending prices for once affordable foods soaring out of reach.

#currency, #food-insecurity, #lebanon, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates

BlockFi lands a $350M Series D at a $3B valuation for its fast-growing crypto-lending platform

If there were any doubt about a cryptocurrency boom, we need look no further than at the explosion of growth of certain companies in the space.

One such company is BlockFi, which today announced it has closed on a massive $350 million Series D funding that values it at $3 billion. While this news in and of itself is certainly attention-getting, it’s even more impressive when you consider the startup just raised a $50 million Series C last August at a $450 million valuation. The latest financing brings its total equity raised since inception to about $450 million, with the company raising $100 million across its seed and Series C rounds.

Zac Prince — who comes from a background in consumer lending —  founded BlockFi with Flori Marquez in 2017. The Jersey City, New Jersey-based startup raised $1.6 million in a seed round of funding that closed in 2018 and was led by ConsenSys Ventures and included participation from SoFi.  

Prince describes BlockFi as a financial services company for crypto market investors that offers a retail and institutional-facing suite of products. On the retail side of its platform, people can use its mobile app to earn a yield on their crypto holdings (6% on Bitcoin, 8.6% on stablecoins), buy and sell crypto and get low-cost loans secured by the value of their crypto portfolio “so they can get liquidity without selling,” he said. Specifically, clients can buy and sell digital assets (from Bitcoin, Ethereum and Link to Litecoin, PaxG and multiple stablecoins) directly on BlockFi.

The startup is also a lender and provider of trade execution services to institutions participating in digital asset markets. 

It’s a model that seems to be working in a big way. Since the end of 2019, BlockFi has seen its client base grow from 10,000 to more than 225,000. Today, BlockFi has 265,000 funded retail clients and over 200 institutional clients.

And it’s lent over $10 billion to its retail, corporate and institutional clients.

Over the past year, BlockFi has also accomplished the following:

  • Increased the number of assets on its platform to $15 billion, compared to $1 billion last March — with a 0% loss rate across its lending portfolio since inception.
  • Bumped its monthly revenue to over $50 million, up from $1.5 million a year prior.
  • Boosted its headcount to about 530 people, compared to 100 last March.

“In less than six months since we completed our Series C, Bitcoin and other digital assets have assumed a central role in many investors’ portfolios and in broader financial markets,” Prince said. “Our conviction that digital assets are the future of finance has been vindicated by our client base, which grew 10 times year over year in 2020 and has more than doubled since the end of 2020.”

New investor Bain Capital Ventures, partners of DST Global, Pomp Investments and Tiger Global co-led the Series D, which included participation from a slew of other firms including existing backer Valar Ventures, Breyer Capital, Susquehanna Government Products, Jump Capital and Paradigm, among many others. BlockFi employees who have been employed for more than one year have the opportunity to receive liquidity on a portion of their equity via a secondary tender offer as part of the financing round.  

BlockFi believes that investor enthusiasm for the Series D round reflects both the company’s strong business growth, as well as “broader conviction in cryptocurrencies as an asset class.” 

“Individual investors, institutional asset managers and corporate treasury departments are all exploring avenues to invest in cryptocurrencies,” the company said.

“Our goal for BlockFi has always been for it to facilitate cryptocurrencies going mainstream – and each day provides more evidence that is exactly what is occurring,” said Marquez, who serves as the company’s SVP of operations.

Bain Capital Ventures Partner Stefan Cohen agrees. He believes there are currently limited banking services available for crypto holders, which puts BlockFi in an opportune position.

“Bitcoin has already eclipsed $1 trillion in market cap and is likely headed higher to fulfill its store of value promise. As wealth accumulates to BTC holders, most will look for ways to earn yield or borrow against their holdings for more traditional asset purchases such as homes, cars and education,” he wrote via email. “BlockFi stands alone as the leader in bringing simple, secure, everyday financial services to cryptocurrency holders.”

The startup’s exponential growth over the past year proves “there was clearly a huge need for BlockFi’s services,” Cohen said.

“Their vision was to build an easy-to-use, trusted platform to bring cryptocurrency to the mainstream, and they’ve truly succeeded,” he added.

Meanwhile, Cohen said Bain Capital has had a long-term thesis on Bitcoin becoming a store of value and has actively invested in “picks-and-shovels businesses” that enable what is now a $1 trillion-plus market. 

“Trusted financial services are a critical pillar of the space, and we view it as a highly strategic component of the market,” he added.

Looking ahead, the startup has plans to launch in the second quarter a Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card, which will give BlockFi clients the ability to earn Bitcoin cash back on every transaction. It plans to use the new capital to continue growing its product suite, expand into new global markets and for strategic acquisitions. The company also plans to double its headcount by year’s end, according to Prince.

BlockFi already has a global presence and retail clients in over 100 countries. Last year, it opened institutional client service offices in London and Singapore.  This year, the startup is looking to add regional support in Europe, APAC and LatAm for its retail clients. 

Over the past week, BlockFi was making headlines for other reasons. The company was the victim of an “unusual assault” on March 7 when an attacker spammed the platform with fake sign-ups and abusive language.

To that end, the company acknowledges that it became aware that an unauthorized third party began attempting bulk sign-ups on its platform on March 7.

“We do not know the origin of the email addresses used for these ‘sign-ups’  but they did not come from us and they were not the emails of BlockFi clients,” the company told TechCrunch. “In general, we would characterize the event as vulgar spam’ and the total number of valid emails affected was less than 1,000.”

The company maintains that no data from BlockFi was accessed and its data was not compromised.  

“Our clients’ funds and data were safeguarded throughout the incident,” the company added. “Since then, our engineering and security teams have taken steps to prevent events like this from happening in the future. In addition, we reached out directly to all of the valid email recipients to apologize for the incident.”

#bain-capital-ventures, #bitcoin, #blockfi, #breyer-capital, #consensys, #consensys-ventures, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #currency, #digital-currencies, #dst-global, #finance, #financial-services, #funding, #fundings-exits, #jump-capital, #new-jersey, #paradigm, #recent-funding, #stablecoin, #startups, #tc, #tiger-global, #valar-ventures, #venture-capital

How Can Biden Bring Back Manufacturing Jobs? Weaken the Dollar

Critics of a strong currency say it hurts American factory workers by making imports cheap.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #china, #currency, #customs-tariff, #international-trade-and-world-market, #labor-and-jobs, #renminbi-currency, #united-states-economy, #us-dollar-currency

China Charges Ahead With a National Digital Currency

The electronic Chinese yuan is now being tested in cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing. No other major power is as far along with a homegrown digital currency.

#alipay, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #bitcoin-currency, #computers-and-the-internet, #currency, #innovation, #mobile-applications, #mobile-commerce-and-payments, #peoples-bank-of-china, #politics-and-government, #renminbi-currency, #virtual-currency, #wechat-mobile-app

Crypto-currency pioneer Diana Biggs joins digital assets startup Valour as its new CEO

Crypto-currency pioneer and early Bitcoin thought-leader Diana Biggs has joined Swiss-based startup Valour, which lets investors easily buy digital assets through their bank or broker. The move is significant with the news that Tesla has bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin, thus massively boosting the mainstream markets for crypto assets. Biggs explored the potential for blockchain technology to help solve humanitarian challenges through her venture, Proof of Purpose, in 2017, and her TEDx speech on Blockchain Technology that year is considered by many in the blockchain space to be one of the best in the genre.

Valour, a Zug, Switzerland-based issuer of investment products, brought in Biggs, the former Private Banking Global Head of Innovation for HSBC, as CEO after recently launching Bitcoin Zero, a fee-free, digital asset ETP product, which trades on the NGM stock exchange.

Biggs, who has been in the Bitcoin space since 2013 told TechCrunch: “I have never seen this much attention to Bitcoin and other crypto-assets… The time for decentralized technologies has arrived, and their potential is increasingly realized by institutional investors.”

Johan Wattenström, the founder of Valour, said: “Diana is the perfect candidate to lead the company through this next phase of growth and expansion. With a wealth of experience in traditional finance, as well as fintech, and her vision for bringing digital assets into the mainstream, we feel very lucky to have her on board.” Wattenström created and listed the digital asset ETP on Nasdaq Nordic, in 2015.

Biggs is an Associate Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and served as Head Tutor for their Blockchain Strategy Programme from 2018 to 2020. She is on the Board of the World Economic Forum’s Digital Leaders of Europe community and is a member of the Milken Institute’s Young Leaders Circle. Prior to joining Valour, Biggs was Global Head of Innovation for HSBC Private Banking, where she led on fintech partnerships and driving open innovation.

#bank, #bitcoin, #broker, #ceo, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptography, #currency, #digital-currencies, #europe, #finance, #founder, #switzerland, #tc, #tesla, #world-economic-forum, #zug

An Ancient Form of European Money: Bronze Rings, Ribs and Blades

Because the objects had a standardized weight, scientists suggest they were a form of currency used some 3,500 years ago.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #bronze-age, #central-europe, #commodities, #copper-brass-and-bronze, #currency, #economics-theory-and-philosophy, #plos-one-journal, #research, #weights-and-measures, #your-feed-science

China’s Stronger Currency Could Be a Fig Leaf for Biden

The renminbi has reached its strongest level in more than two years and shows no signs of stopping, signaling Chinese dominance in manufacturing and giving Biden breathing room.

#china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #international-relations, #peoples-bank-of-china, #renminbi-currency, #us-dollar-currency

As Bitcoin Prices Swing, Millionaires Lose Sleep Over Lost Keys

Bitcoin owners are getting rich because the cryptocurrency has soared. But what happens when you can’t access that wealth because you forgot the password to your digital wallet?

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #bitcoin-currency, #computer-security, #computers-and-the-internet, #currency, #lost-and-found-property, #virtual-currency, #wallet-recovery-services

Fans of H.G. Wells Cry Foul Over Errors in Commemorative Coin

The two-pound coin from the Royal Mint features imagery from Wells’s books. But fans observed that the writer’s Martian tripods have three legs instead of four.

#books-and-literature, #currency, #great-britain, #royal-mint-ltd-the, #the-invisible-man-book, #war-of-the-worlds-book, #wells-h-g, #writing-and-writers

Iraq, Struggling to Pay Debts and Salaries, Plunges Into Economic Crisis

Oil-rich Iraq, its economy hobbled by neglect and corruption, has devalued its currency and had its imported electricity cut off for nonpayment.

#baghdad-iraq, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #electric-light-and-power, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #iraq, #kadhimi-mustafa-al, #labor-and-jobs, #politics-and-government, #unemployment

Trump Administration Says Vietnam and Switzerland Manipulated Currency

The decision to label the countries as currency manipulators for the first time is likely to raise tensions with two trading partners.

#currency, #international-trade-and-world-market, #politics-and-government, #united-states-economy, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vietnam

Lockdown Gardening in Britain Leads to Archaeological Discoveries

The finds this year, including a cache of gold coins from the reign of Henry VIII, come as Britain considers expanding the law to protect a broader range of artifacts from its centuries-old history.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #british-museum, #collectors-and-collections, #cumbria-england, #currency, #gardens-and-gardening, #gold, #great-britain, #hampshire-england, #henry-viii-king-of-england, #law-and-legislation, #london-england, #milton-keynes-england, #museums, #silver, #treasure-troves

With investors expecting a Latin American cryptocurrency boom, Mexico’s Bitso raises $62 million

Six years after the launch of the Mexico-based crypotcurrency exchange and financial services platform Bitso the company revealed it has closed on $62 million in financing to capitalize on the cryptocurrency boom investors expect to hit Latin America. 

The three major cryptocurrencies are all trading up in the waning months of 2020, with Bitcoin prices nearing (or exceeding) record highs. The global growth of these digital currencies and their applications in emerging markets have savvy financial services investors like the firm QED Investors (founded by the masterminds behind Capital One) intrigued. Which is why the firm joined the Latin American heavyweight investor Kaszek Ventures in financing Bitso’s $62 million round.

Bitso may already be the dominant cryptocurrency platform in Latin America boasting 1 million users (primarily in Mexico and Argentina) and is one of the only platforms to be licensed under the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) license from the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC)

 A visual representation of digital cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethernum, Dash, Monero and Litecoin. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

Founded by Ben Peters, Daniel Vogel and Pablo Gonzalez, the company has been dominant in the Latin America crypto market, but it has also not been able to avoid some of the controversies that surround the crypto industry.

A report from Reuters flagged Bitso as one of the platforms that criminals like the human trafficker Ignacio Santoyo were using to launder money.

The founders of Bitso and their investors focus on the ability for cryptocurrencies to reduce friction and cost in markets where financial services often ignore the middle class and low income consumers that often need them the most.

“Crypto as an asset class was not going away and was clearly coming of age,” said Nigel Morris, the QED co-founder who previously led Capital One. “It’s not going away. And with that there are various financial services that are enabled by this asset class. You can lend against it. You can use it to move money cross-border. This thing is now palpable and real and has come of age.”

For all of those reasons, Latin America represented a big opportunity for QED Investors to make its first bet in the cryptocurrency space, and for Bitso to be that initial investment.

This is a terrific business model and a great team and a geography that we know,” said Morris. The firm has invested in startups like Coru and Confio already and is a big believer in the opportunity for financial services startups in Mexico broadly. 

For Bitso, the big opportunities are presenting Latin American investors with an opportunity to invest in foreign currencies like the US dollar through stablecoin offerings alongside a slew of lending and cross-border remittance services — in addition to the peer to peer transaction services the company already offers.

Bitso already employs 200 people and intends to use the capital to expand aggressively across Latin America. The company’s first port of call will be Brazil. The largest market in the region, Brazil represents a huge untapped opportunity for Bitso’s growth, according to co-founder Daniel Vogel.

“We have really good traction building products where the central product is not exposure to bitcoin or crypto but fulfilling this vision of making crypto useful,” Vogel said. “These two investors have a lot fo knowledge in the fintech space int he traditional financial services space and we’re excited to continue developing projects. We have been building some of these things out … utilizing technology for things that are useful to the end customer and developing products along those lines.”

For instance, Bitso is already processing $1 billion in remittances for customers, enabling transactions for financial services partners like crypto-currency enabled money transmitters.

Vogel first met QED and Kaszek when he was just getting Bitso off the ground, living and working in a hacker house that was shared with five other companies. “I had to kick my team out of the meeting from my only room,” Vogel recalled.

Now the company boasts a customer base of 1 million and with the new cash, hopes to add another 1 million Brazilian customers to the platform.

He thinks that access to stablecoins will lead the way. “There was so much uncertainty that people flocked to the dollar as a store of value,” Vogel said. “Access to dollars is something that has grown quite a bit in the last year.”

#abra, #argentina, #bitcoin, #bitso, #brazil, #co-founder, #cryptocurrencies, #currency, #digital-currencies, #financial-services, #kaszek-ventures, #latin-america, #mexico, #peer-to-peer, #qed-investors, #stablecoin, #tc

Bitcoin Climbs to Record High

The crazy cousin of traditional currencies, which fell below $4,000 in March, passed $19,783. More investors now are buying it for the long term.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #bitcoin-currency, #computers-and-the-internet, #currency, #gold, #office-of-the-comptroller-of-the-currency, #paypal, #square-inc, #virtual-currency

Who Will Miss the Coins When They’re Gone?

We used to carry and trade bits of metal everywhere, but a pandemic shortage and the rise of digital money are making jingly pockets a distant memory for many.

#american-numismatic-assn, #archaeology-and-anthropology, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #currency, #numismatics, #united-states-economy, #united-states-mint, #virtual-currency

Turkey’s Finance Minister Resigns Amid Pressures of Sliding Economy

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, who is known for his ties to the Trump White House, said he was quitting as Turkey’s lira tumbles and its economy worsens.

#aksener-meral, #albayrak-berat, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #currency, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #foundation-for-defense-of-democracies, #halkbank, #istanbul-turkey, #kushner-jared, #turkey

‘If There Were No Hashish Here, You Wouldn’t See a Single House’

A village in Lebanon, where cannabis grows everywhere, has long counted on hashish for income. But the country’s economic crisis has farmers reconsidering the crop.

#agriculture-and-farming, #bekaa-valley-lebanon, #currency, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #hashish, #hezbollah, #lebanon

Embattled Fed Nominee Celebrates Free Markets, but Not in Her Backyard

Judy Shelton, a longtime Federal Reserve critic and gold standard fan, could soon clinch a job on the Fed board. Her views have often been inconsistent.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #currency, #gold, #gold-standard-monetary, #interest-rates, #shelton-judy, #united-states-economy

The Fiction That Makes the World Go Round

“Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing,” by Jacob Goldstein, is a conversational account of currency — an abstraction propped up by group faith.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #books-and-literature, #currency, #goldstein-jacob-journalist, #innovation, #money-the-true-story-of-a-made-up-thing-book, #us-dollar-currency

Turkey Braces for Yet Another Currency Crisis

A sharp drop in the value of the lira is testing businesses and residents while they are coping with the pandemic.

#antalya-turkey, #bulgurlu-hakan, #currency, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #grundig-ag, #home-appliances, #istanbul-turkey, #north-atlantic-treaty-organization, #turkey, #us-dollar-currency, #ventilators-medical, #world-bank

Lebanon Is Exhausted

The myth of their resilience helped the Lebanese function despite a miserably corrupt and inept state. No longer.

#beirut-lebanon, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #corruption-institutional, #currency, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #lebanon, #politics-and-government

European Markets Offering an Alternative to the S&P 500

European stocks have been unloved by investors for years. Now, as the euro soars, they offer an alternative to the S&P 500.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #currency, #euro-currency, #europe, #futures-and-options-trading, #standardpoors-500-stock-index, #stocks-and-bonds, #stoxx-600, #united-states, #us-dollar-currency