Stellar Lumens (XLM) Forum with for newcomers and contributor's rewarded Check here

Stellar Lumens, Binance, and Sigwo Technologies are celebrating the latest launches. 
1 Million Lumens has been awarded for the Challenge Build Builder and deals have been shared now. 
Stellar.Org will give you 6,500 Lumens as promised the gift for Active Users which have record more transactions.

Claim here now before running out :

"Terms and Conditions" 
★ Not for New Account. Only for Accounts that already have least 4 transactions. 
★ If you have 0 transactions on your address, the claim can't be found. 
★ For security system without cheating. 
★ Hint: stellar l account viewer l =>claim =>Use code => Enyoy your gift!
★ Share your friends. 

Make yourself one of the active users who are lucky to get the Lumens from us. 
Keep your transactions to get more Lumens from us. Thanks for use our service.

Best Regards, 
Stellar Development Foundation
Join our global community
#XLM #stellarLumens #bclockchain #cryptocurrency

Read More Read More, Posted by: Stellar_Foundation
Stellar Lumens, Binance, and Sigwo Technologies are celebrating the latest launches. 
1 Million Lumens has been awarded for the Challenge Build Builder and deals have been shared now. 
Stellar.Org will give you 6,500 Lumens as promised the gift for Active Users which have record more transactions.

Claim here now before running out :

"Terms and Conditions" 
★ Not for New Account. Only for Accounts that already have least 4 transactions. 
★ If you have 0 transactions on your address, the claim can't be found. 
★ For security system without cheating. 
★ Hint: stellar l account viewer l =>claim =>Use code => Enyoy your gift!
★ Share your friends. 

Make yourself one of the active users who are lucky to get the Lumens from us. 
Keep your transactions to get more Lumens from us. Thanks for use our service.

Best Regards, 
Stellar Development Foundation
Join our global community
#XLM #stellarLumens #bclockchain #cryptocurrency

Read More Read More, Posted by: Stellar_Foundation
Stellar Lumens, Binance, and Sigwo Technologies are celebrating the latest launches. 
1 Million Lumens has been awarded for the Challenge Build Builder and deals have been shared now. 
Stellar.Org will give you 6,500 Lumens as promised the gift for Active Users which have record more transactions.

Claim here now before running out :

"Terms and Conditions" 
★ Not for New Account. Only for Accounts that already have least 4 transactions. 
★ If you have 0 transactions on your address, the claim can't be found. 
★ For security system without cheating. 
★ Hint: stellar l account viewer l =>claim =>Use code => Enyoy your gift!
★ Share your friends. 

Make yourself one of the active users who are lucky to get the Lumens from us. 
Keep your transactions to get more Lumens from us. Thanks for use our service.

Best Regards, 
Stellar Development Foundation
Join our global community
#XLM #stellarLumens #bclockchain #cryptocurrency

Read More Read More, Posted by: Stellar_Foundation
Buat yang masih punya akun stellar lama yg masih bisa login tapi lupa Email saat mau upgrade mari mendekat InsyaAllah bisa dibantu  Wink

untuk yang punya akun bejibun bisa japri via WA : 0813 4200 4015

Mari Berbagi 

Read More Read More, Posted by: T0pan
The Nobel Prize in Economics was last year awarded to Professor Richard Thaler for his pioneering work in establishing that people are predictably irrational – “that they consistently behave in ways that defy economic theory”.

Thaler is a controversial Nobel Prize winner, but one whose theory could explain what has been going on lately, with Bitcoin’s rise to glory.

People’s irrationality was at its peak in the past few months, when the parabolic price increase of Bitcoin caught on like wildfire. For many, evidence against Bitcoin was just noise.

For example, in an article I wrote in December for The New Times, warning that Bitcoin was not a sustainable asset or investment scheme, all comments to my article were testament that no one was having it – even in the face of evidence, commentators did not budge.

They argued that Bitcoin was the next big thing; that central banks had lost the game and the only way for Bitcoin was up. These comments were a clear sign that Bitcoin was in what the classic models of bubbles call – the euphoria stage.

In his 1986 book ‘Stabilising an Unstable Economy’, economist Hyman P. Minsky developed the Minsky’s theory of financial instability, where he created a model of bubbles.

In the model, he defined bubbles to have five steps: Displacement – investors get enamored by a new paradigm, such as an innovative new technology (like blockchain/DLT) which is used to justify a new era.

Boom – when a positive buzz creates price increases and drags more people in. 

Euphoria – where the boom is known to the wider public and more and more people are buying because others are doing so, with a promise to sell on a higher price.

Profit taking – when doubts start to set in and some people decide to take their profits while they can.

Panic – bad news pours in, asset prices reverse course and descend as rapidly as they had ascended. Those who bought with expectations for higher prices see their wealth diminish and now want to liquidate at any price.

Bitcoin has passed many of these stages, Displacement started with the talk of how blockchain, a technology that supports many cryptocurrencies, is promising to change the world. This led to the belief that Bitcoin like many other cryptocurrencies was here to stay, a boom happened and prices soared.

This massive price increases became mainstream news, leading us to the euphoria stage. However, as countries like China started clamping down on cryptocurrencies and reports of more countries like South Korea joining this movement, it set stage for bad news, which seems to have pushed to the panic stage, where prices of Bitcoin are falling, day in day out.

As I argued in my article, Bitcoin’s price increases were not sustainable because, it is denominated in its own units of value, do not have intrinsic value, it is not tied to a sovereign currency and therefore not a liability of any person or institution.

The belief that it would be widely adopted as a global currency was therefore suspect; partly because of regulatory reasons and partly because, creating a world currency from scratch, especially given the mandatory limitations on bitcoin creation, is no mean feat.

I also argued that because of the risks the emergence of Bitcoin poses; risks to financial stability, use in illicit activities such as money laundering and circumventing of government controls; it would soon or later push authorities to ban the use of Bitcoin.
This we have observed in many countries, like in China, where authorities have increased efforts to ban the use of cryptocurrencies.

As Bitcoin prices continue to fall, some people have lost so much of their wealth. Some may have been counting millions before the downward price movement kicked in, but unless you are out of the asset class, you cannot count as rich. Getting out however may be tricky for many, since lots of value has already been wiped out.
People may expect the prices to go up again in future, but it is worth noting that the factors leading to price falls such as governments’ cracking down on Bitcoin have just started. Any price increases will be small and will not last.

Valuing Bitcoin is very difficult, if not impossible. There is no single model that can at least predict what its price will be. It was very difficult to put a price target when Bitcoin prices were rising and it will be difficult to set a floor on how much it will come down. 

As the saying goes – what goes up must come down. It is clear that Bitcoin is falling from glory; even worse, it is hard to tell how low it will go.

The author is an Economist in the Monetary Policy and Research Department at the National Bank of Rwanda.

The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.

Read More Read More, Posted by: Vieamie
KINGDOM OF PRIVELEGE: Supported by all wallets and applications related to this popular cryptocurrency

[Image: 2n8oc4k.jpg]


Our Idea

Privelege Coin is not only a cryptocurrency is also the official means of payment in the Kingdom of Privelege with which you can pay for services and goods from our citizens – from Medical consultations to cloths .
Privelege Coin primarily acts as a member share in the micronation, which allows the owners of the largest number of the cryptocurrency to sit on the advisory board and thereby guide the development of the micronation.
In the future after raising money from Privelege Coin cryptocurrency, Privelege is planning to buy its own Island to create a Tax Free Haven.

Supported by all wallets and applications related to this popular cryptocurrency

Why Privilege Coin?

[Image: 34p17d1.jpg]


The Privilege Coin cryptocurrency will be based on micronation and its quantity is predetermined, without the possibility of adding coins

Built on ETH

Privilege Coin is based on Ethereum blockchain, which guarantees access to the latest development opportunities

By using a Privilege Coin you will pay for services offered by the Kingdom and citizens

Crypto exchanges on which Privelege Coin will be, will be annouced in March


The Bank supports development of mortgage finance markets by extending medium and long-term credit lines to eligible financial institutions in the member countries.


Privilege Coin is based on Blockchain Ethereum which guarantees the stability of the transaction


Privelege Coin & Island State

Like the Dominican Republic has its Dominican pesos, so Privelege must own its own currency. Going with the spirit of time it will be the cryptocurrency – Privelege Coin,
which will be used to pay taxes in Privelege, rent the land and buy other goods. Since the Privelege Coin is based on the modern ETH blockchain, it is supported by all wallets and applications related to this popular cryptocurrency.

For more information visit:


Read More Read More, Posted by: booniepromoter
[size=undefined][Image: 644602-bitcoin-thinkstock-012418.jpg]

[size=undefined]Finding the right time for investment is very elusive. It is hard to perfect your entry into a specific market. You need to have a long-term perspective for any kind of investment to reduce the risk of volatility and risk of losses. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had a stellar growth in 2017 fetching returns from 1,500% to 15,000%. Bitcoin’s sharp rise from $450 per unit in May 2016 to $19,000 per unit in December 2017 had generated enough excitement across the globe to make bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a dream investment asset.[/size]

In India too, early investors reaped astonishing profits as the price marched from Rs 65,000 in January 2017 to Rs 14 lakh in December 2017. The volatility of bitcoin has surprised every fund manager of the world. But no one can take away the long-term advantages of bitcoins and cryptocurrencies at large. The current fall of the bitcoin valuation to almost $10,000 levels has certainly created a valuable proposition for new investors.

The exponential price growth has given birth to extreme volatility in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Even though bitcoin gained considerable traction as a speculative instrument in 2017, the adoption of bitcoin as a payment system has largely been muted. Additionally, the advent of several other cryptocurrencies such as ethereum, ripple and its own rival bitcoin cash, has contributed to the scepticism of losing more value of bitcoins.
Does that mean that the best time to invest in bitcoins has passed? Let’s figure out the factors that are in favour of Bitcoin and against it.

Bitcoin as an asset class: With traditional investment avenues like real estate and gold underperforming in the recent years, riding on a revolutionary technology, bitcoin produced an amazing return on investment (ROI) for the investors. The decentralised nature of bitcoin offers investors the opportunity to diversify their investments from underperforming assets to cryptocurrencies, the most performing asset of 2017. Bitcoin investors have enjoyed a higher ROI in a short span of time. This trend will continue in 2018 if more people accept bitcoin.

Bitcoin halving continues: Unlike other investment resources that are increased when demand is on a rise, bitcoin production follows the strict protocol of introducing no more than 21 million units. More than 16 million units have already been launched and creation of the remaining bitcoins will be spread over the next 12 years.

Global nature of bitcoin trading: Since bitcoin is traded on multiple exchanges and extensively traded among peer-to-peer globally, as and when volume increases, investors can be assured to offset their holdings wherever they want. The acceptance of bitcoin in multiple countries makes the cryptocurrency easily tradeable instrument. This is by far the most differentiating advantage that bitcoin has over other asset classes.

Complete control of bitcoins: The decentralised structure of bitcoin network ensures that no one but the holder has the control over their money. Users do not have to worry about sending or receiving money anywhere in the world without worrying about authoritarian regulations or bank holidays.
Now that we have talked about the positive factors of bitcoin, let's dig into the possible obstacles for bitcoin’s future to establish a global currency.

Government restrictions: Due to the anonymous nature of bitcoin transactions, it is highly impractical for the governments to allow the bitcoin transactions in its current state. Anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) guidelines from the regulators, will put the privacy-loving bitcoin users under scrutiny and can impact the bitcoin’s price movement to a great extent. Having said that, it is imperative for the government to regulate cryptocurrencies to ensure accountability and transparency in the industry.
Stiff competition from forked brothers and other peers: Now that the forking of bitcoin blockchain has become a regular affair, it comes up with better operational capabilities. The current bitcoin might come under great pressure if scalability issue persists. Smart contract enables blockchains like ethereum also can give a tough competition to bitcoin in future.
With odds weighing on both sides, 2018 will provide a clear direction for bitcoin’s status and its sustainability in the mainstream financial market. Irrespective of whether bitcoin is going to reign as leader of the crypto pack or not, a long-term investment spread across the top cryptocurrencies can yield a handsome return for the investors.

  • It is highly impractical for the governments to allow the bitcoin transactions in its current state  
  • The current bitcoin might come under great pressure if scalability issue persists  
  • With odds weighing on both sides, 2018 will provide a clear direction for bitcoin’s status

Read More Read More, Posted by: Vieamie
The $9 billion payments company's exit comes at a time of mass concern over the cost of using bitcoin for online retail.
  • Stripe cofounders Patrick and John Collison  (Stripe)
  • Stripe, the $9 billion online payments company, is putting an end to the product that enabled retailers to accept bitcoin as payment.
  • It's a major hit to the popular cryptocurrency, once believed to be the future of online payments, but Stripe isn't the only company to back off.
  • Expensive transaction fees and long wait times have made it difficult to use bitcoin for small transactions, since mining fees spiked at $37 per purchase in December.

The $9 billion digital payments companyStripe is killing off its bitcoin product, the company announced Tuesday.

Citing a decrease in use by both retailers and customers, Stripe said will wind down support for its bitcoin payment application and stop processing bitcoin payments entirely on April 23.

"Empirically, there are fewer and fewer use cases for which accepting or paying with Bitcoin makes sense," Stripe product manager Tom Karlo wrote in the announcement.

While the explosive growth of bitcoin — with prices shooting as high as $15,000 earlier this month, before sinking down around $11,000 at the time of writing — drove mass interest in the cryptocurrency as an asset for investment, it also brought to the surface concerns about its use for everyday payments on a large scale.

Mining fees — the cost paid to the people who provide the computing infrastructurebehind each bitcoin transaction — peaked in late December, when people were required to pay $37 on top of any transaction just to make sure their payment went through in a timely manner. Transactions submitted without a high-end mining fee could take hours or days to process, at which point the value of bitcoin in USD likely had changed.

Today, mining fees cost just over $6 per transaction, but that number is volatile and spikes when more people are making transactions. In addition, there can be other fees associated with paying in bitcoin — services like Stripe charge per transaction, for instance, which can drive the overall cost of a bitcoin transaction even higher.

Stripe — which makes much of its revenues on credit card transactions — is not the first company to back out of what has become a very expensive and time consuming means of exchanging money.

The online video game storefront Valve stopped accepting bitcoins in December, and Microsoft briefly disabled bitcoin payments around the same time. Both companies handled bitcoin payments through BitPay, a bitcoin-specific payment application and Stripe competitor, which itself temporarily banned payments under $100 because of the large fees associated with transaction.

While Karlo wrote in the blog that Stripe remains "very optimistic about cryptocurrencies overall," the end of its bitcoin product marks a big shift in both the payments industry and bitcoin more broadly.

When Stripe first enabled bitcoin payment process in 2014, advocates for the cryptocurrency believed that it could be a cheaper than credit cards like Visa, which charge seller-side customers a fee on top of each transaction, and more accessible to people in part of the world without banks or stable currencies.

"Our hope was that Bitcoin could become a universal, decentralized substrate for online transactions and help our customers enable buyers in places that had less credit card penetration or use cases where credit card fees were prohibitive," Karlo wrote in the blog entry.

Read More Read More, Posted by: GreenWhiteGreen
VENEZUELA’S new oil-backed cryptocurrency the Petro has already been condemned by US Senators who believe the country has made the currency just to avoid sanctions.

US Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez have both denounced Venezuela’s planned cryptocurrency in an open letter addressed to the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The two senators asked how the Treasury Department was monitoring Venezuela’s plan to add to the cryptocurrency market despite sending years in an economic crisis so dire it has resulted in starvation affecting many citizens. 
Both Mr Rubio and Mr Menendez wrote in their open letter: "We have serious doubts about whether Venezuela has the capacity to launch a cryptocurrency, but regardless, it is imperative that the U.S. Treasury Department is equipped with tools and enforcement mechanisms to combat the use of cryptocurrency to evade U.S. sanctions in general, and in this case in particular.

Even Venezuela’s own national Congress has denounced the cryptocurrency as illegal and have said that the legislature needs to vote on the token’s creation.
However Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said this new creation will help the country circumvent sanctions. A similar stance has been taken by Russia. 
President Putin has mandated regulation around cryptocurrencies, including registration requirements for miners and the application of securities laws to Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). He has also commissioned a national cryptocurrency cryptoruble.

Sergei Glazev, an economic adviser to the Russian leader, told a government meeting that the cryptocurrency would serve as a "useful tool" to evade western economic sanctions.
Mr Glazev said: "This instrument suits us very well for sensitive activity on behalf of the state. We can settle accounts with our counterparties all over the world with no regard for sanctions."
The Kremlin can track the moves of the cryptoruble, although whether the Bank of Russia begins to issue remains to be seen.

Read More Read More, Posted by: GreenWhiteGreen
Facebook has noticed blockchain

Tencent, the Chinese internet giant behind QQ and WeChat, has partnered with Intel and detailed their plans for blockchain. They’re taking steps and now we can expect Facebook to push back.
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg published a Facebook post on January 4th outlining his personal goals for 2018. Top of the list was fixing issues of people misusing Facebook. He offered encryption and cryptocurrency as an antidote, saying

Quote:“I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how to best use them in our services.”

If Facebook decides to get involved, how would they go about it? Looking at Facebook’s track record can provide some insight.

Facebook likes to acquire their way into new technology

[Image: 1*v7sN3Qmkjd5cIUxBPPLZbg.jpeg]

Historically, Facebook has found success doing strategic acquisitions. Spending tens of billions to acquire 50+ startups and jump-start key areas of the Facebook platform. This behavior dates way back to 2009 when they bought Friendfeed to improve their aggregated feeds. And it’s continuing to this day, with their recent acquisition of Ozlo to build out their artificial intelligence product.
They also have a successful history of purchasing rocket-ship products to run alongside Facebook and expand into new markets. Some examples nobody will forget are Instagram, Whatsapp, and Oculus Rift.
The million dollar question here becomes, which companies are they going to acquire when they make their debut in crypto?
We analyzed 50 coins already on the market to create a short-list. Here are 3 areas and acquisitions that Facebook could consider.

1. Financial identity with Bloom

[Image: 1*SjcPwV9k8SiviGzTbS5QfQ.jpeg]

Since the beginning, Facebook has served as your online identity. From the content you share to the “login with Facebook” buttons strewn across the internet — Facebook is you on the internet.
In fact, the strength of Facebook as a verified identity is one of the things that led to the success of Tinder, a dating app, which required users log in through Facebook. By being tied to Facebook, it showed these were “real people”, and not people impersonating or catfishing.
With blockchain, Facebook could expand the scope of your online identity to include financial areas as well. This would introduce new opportunities for Facebook and the services they offer.
A key acquisition for this could be Bloom (BLT).

[Image: 1*8gF9l79BDfYlNdoENGNEpw.png]

Bloom was created by Stanford engineers and launched their ICO in December of 2017. Bloom does identity attestation (proving that you are you), reporting and tracking debt obligations, and issuing credit scores. They also help individuals grow their credit scores by using the Bloom credit card.
This could enable Facebook to push into the financial sector. They could begin issuing credit cards and doing identity attestation and credit scoring.
The result: more user financial data (which advertisers will love) and new ways to make money. Plus it would further cement Facebook as an unshakable portion of our lives.
In the future, when you have a Facebook credit card, bank account, and car lease — you may find yourself in a situation where you “will quit using Facebook… as soon as you repay this mortgage”.

2. Paying Users for content with Steem

[Image: 1*lhd84B2QYUxD9xb5xdv42g.png]

Facebook could pay users for their content. With the success of platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Medium that offer monetary incentives to their top creators, it’s amazing that Facebook creators still only make money outside the Facebook ecosystem.
Other businesses might get caught in their ways, but Facebook has proven that they will flip their business model on its head if they have to. A recent example of this is their shift to video. Turns out, less people scrolling the feed, and instead watching longer video content, means lower margins and less revenue per user.
Zuckerberg explained in early 2017 that,

Quote:“the margin structure will be different, [video] almost certainly will be a lower margin source of revenue than what we currently do”.

This could be the same — a major change to their core business model that is essential to keeping up. A strategic takeover on this front is Steem (SMT).

[Image: 1*0C_QOWkikFlNJKmHE8Rhow.png]

Steem is a platform for rewarding publishers and allowing them to monetize their content. The first major application built using Steem was Steemit, a blog-style social network similar to Medium. On Steemit, users can receive money instead of upvotes and until now, over $22 million has been paid out to publishers.
Building on Steem would be a huge move for Facebook.
Right off the bat, they could add a “super like” button. Now when you see amazing content, instead of just liking, you can let them know you care. Or donations. Like if your friend gets married or has a baby — you can send a few dollars their way just to say congrats!
Step 2 is bigger. Now users have “money” saved on their accounts. Facebook already has marketplaces where users can buy/sell products. With tokens, now users can easily buy products right inside of Facebook. With products just a tap away, Facebook could steal market share from Amazon and become the most convenient place to shop online.
This is a challenge though. Since Steem is an open-source community, Facebook can’t just acquire it in the traditional sense. They could, however, “adopt” the community — ensuring a large amount of resources being put into the community are Facebook controlled.
These moves would put Facebook on the frontline of blockchain, improve their user-generated content, and give them influence over other content driven websites.

3. Increasing trust and transparency with MetaX

Facebookas had a really tough time with trust in 2017. Zuckerberg even said it was his focus for 2018.
[Image: 1*0wv7HKo8HJPiPz8QR-N5JA.png]
Facebook is seeking to repair trust by:

  1. Increasing requirements for authenticity, and

  2. Making advertising more transparent
The cool thing is that blockchain is often celebrated for fixing these exact same kinds of problems.
A company which might be able to help out with this is MetaX (ADT).

[Image: 1*PEpJf8PLPcOMlC99eVS0oQ.png]

MetaX is a company using blockchain to increase transparency and expose fraud in the advertising industry. They are based out of LA and have partnerships with Consensys and DMA (Data & Marketing Association). Their product works by whitelisting domains, but this process could be used in reverse for Facebook’s application.
By using blockchain to crowdsource which advertisers are good and which are bad, it could make it harder for the bad guys to slip through. Like a game of whack-a-mole — except there are 100 people with sticks waiting and ready.
Also, MetaX can solve problems surrounding impression tracking.
This means less fake news, less scams, fewer bots, AND you have a better idea of what information Facebook is sending to advertisers. Seems like a win, win, win.


Blockchain is an exciting technology with the potential to solve problems that were previously very difficult. It is likely that Facebook will use it in some capacity, but difficult to predict exactly how.
They could use blockchain to improve areas like trust and content generation for their existing platform, or they could use it to expand into new markets and solidify their iron grip on everyone’s lives.

Read More Read More, Posted by: GreenWhiteGreen
Following weeks of talks about a regulatory crackdown on cryptocurrency exchanges, South Korean officials will reportedly begin taxing some exchangesoperating in the country.
South Korea's government has been signaling for a while that it plans to crack down on virtual currency trading in the country, likening virtual currency trading to gambling, and claiming it encourages illicit behavior.
In recent years, South Korea has grown into one of the top markets for cryptocurrency trading, with some attributing that growth to the country’s young, who face a youth unemployment rate three times the national average.
“Cryptocurrency ... is like a ray of sunshine for me,” says Juwon Park, a 24-year-old Seoul-based journalist who recently invested about $2,500 in Ether and Ripple.
“Before, I was thinking about grad school. I was thinking about ... potentially getting a house and that's possible only through a loan,” Park says. “But now, with cryptocurrency, I could potentially ... make some money for myself to further my education and potentially — if I get lucky — to get a house. So I think of it as more of an investment.”
Park spoke with The World after writing the piece below, originally published in the English-language magazine Korea Exposé. 

I am a 24-year-old South Korean and my hopes are in cryptocurrency
“Do you know how to buy bitcoins from exchanges abroad?” asked my cousin on KakaoTalk, South Korea’s popular messenger app. When I told him he might need an overseas bank account, he asked, “Do you also invest in bitcoins?”
I told him about my very first financial investment made a few days ago —  $2,500 evenly divided between Ripples and Ethereum Classic. “Let’s greet another Ripples investor.” With that message, he suddenly welcomed me into a different chat room consisting of him and three other cousins I rarely keep in touch with.
The atmosphere in the chat room was a lot more jovial than at our usual family gatherings — especially when the price of EOS, one cryptocurrency, momentarily surged more than 90 percent last week.
They digitally shouted, “Gazua”— a bastardized version of the Korean word gajawhich literally means “let’s go!” So “Gazua” means something along the line of “Let’s goooooooo,” reflecting the hope among investors that the value of their cryptocurrency will soar to the moon. (South Korea is the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency market so the word has been appropriated even by foreign investors on online bitcoin discussion communities and Twitter).
Even though I’ve been covering business news for about two years, I was never much of a believer in investing because of all the horror stories about investments gone bad. For example, my ex-boss who used to be a big-time trader in Singapore told me about his friends who jumped off the bridge during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. It led me to believe that I should rely more on my hard work and determination instead of staring at tickers and graphs for money I didn’t sweat for.
However, now, as a 24-year-old in South Korea, investing in cryptocurrency seems like my only hope for a brighter future. And clearly I am not the only one to think this way.
The Hell Joseon Conundrum
I wouldn’t call South Korea “hell” because that sounds like a place with engulfing fire and pitchfork-wielding demons, but many young South Koreans have taken to describing their country in this way because living in South Korea sometimes feels like swimming in ocean toward a faraway island with no idea of when or how to get there. I’ve been back only two months, but I am already gulping for air.
I have graduated from one of the top tertiary educational institutions in Asia, and would sometimes hear people refer to me as a person born with a “golden spoon” in her mouth because they think I am wealthy enough to study abroad. But they don’t know that I took out a massive loan to pay for the education, and I am still paying it back with the help of my parents.
I am not the only one to pay exorbitant fees for decent education. An average South Korean student spends 256,000 won ($240) per month on after-school education even before entering university, according to government data. In Seoul’s rich district of Gangnam, some parents reportedly spend as much as 2.57 million won ($2,415) per month on education-related costs for a single child in high school. That is more than 92 million won (some $86,000) for three years of high school.
And trust me, people not living in Gangnam also fork out large sums to the best of their ability to educate their children in the hope of changing the color of their kids’ “spoon.” My friend’s mom living in a humble suburban area of Seoul held two jobs delivering milk and babysitting to pay for private hagwon fees when my friend was in high school. In South Korea, even an average family earning a monthly income between one and two million won ($940 to $1880) still spent five to 10 percent of that money on a child’s private education in 2016.
To make the best of this expensive education, I interned four times during university at global companies including Google and Bloomberg while participating in various school activities, taking numerous classes per semester and tutoring young students. I did all this partly out of passion, but also to make sure that I can find a job after graduation, pay back my loan and financially support myself.
Now in Seoul, I feel like my hard work, neatly summarized in a one-page resume, has been basically worthless.
I have been lucky to get full-time work immediately out of university, but almost one out of every 10 South Korean youths (officially defined as aged 15 to 29) is jobless, partly because they spend all that time just preparing to get a job at additional cost.
The most sought-after career path for many South Korean graduates is entering one of giant South Korean conglomerates — the so-called chaebol — such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai. Those companies offer relatively generous salaries and benefits (with the starting salary at around three to four million won ($2,800 to $3,800) and a measure of job stability. However, even if you’re lucky to get a job at one of those companies, forget about work-life balance (not that smaller companies paying less would offer more free time).
When I came back to Seoul, I envisioned myself drinking somaek (the delicious combination of soju and beer) with my friends after work in dimly lit grilling joints of Seoul. The plan never materialized because many work until 2 or 3 a.m. Their dinners during the week are reserved for eating with colleagues and bosses, and their weekends are for resting. Their lives resemble that of my dad, a former civil servant, who worked until 1 a.m. almost every day before retirement. I never saw much of him growing up, and that culture hasn’t changed.
Even if you are willing to put up with the hours, fitting into South Korea’s toxic corporate culture is tough, and you can be picked on for things that have nothing to do with workplace performance. When I went for a job interview at one of top PR firms in South Korea, a thirty-something manager asked me, “Why is your resume so laden with social consciousness?” He was pointing to the part that listed my experience as a news assistant covering the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster. At the end of the interview, he concluded, “I don’t think you can adapt to our corporate culture because you grew up overseas.” I won’t even go into the issues of discrimination against women.
And why should I put up with this when none of these terrible jobs will ensure a good living standard? Getting housing in Seoul is a challenge for me and many young adults even with a decent income.
The median price of an apartment in Seoul stood at nearly 435 million won (almost $400,000) as of late 2016, Maeil Business News Korea has reported. Seoul is more expensive to live in than Geneva, Paris and Copenhagen according to a 2017 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
However, unlike other big Asian locales on the list, South Korea doesn’t have a low youth unemployment rate or a well-established system of public housing (as in Singapore, where 80 percent of the the population live in government-provided apartments), or a strong domestic economy and a bigger supply of jobs (as in Japan).

It will take me at least 10 to 18 years to be able to afford to buy a place in Seoul on the premise that I save every won (calculated on the basis of my current salary and expectation for higher earnings in the future).
South Korea’s income inequality is the worst in Asia according to the International Monetary Fund’s 2016 report — the country’s top 10 percent of income earners account for 45 percent of total earnings. I’ve already done my math. Unless I suddenly become an investment banker or a lawyer, I can predict that my future salary won’t be enough for retirement — the national pension system is still in its infancy and doesn’t pay much unless one has worked as a public servant or teacher. I have no inheritance or connections to count on (unlike those chaebol children who become executives at family firms when they are still in their twenties and thirties).

Going to graduate school is financially out of the question. Having kids doesn’t sound feasible at all when I sometimes worry about my debit card getting rejected at restaurants due to insufficient funds in my bank account. Which brings me back to the cryptocurrency craze.
Life Jacket
People in their twenties and thirties account for more than half of all cryptocurrency investors in this country. For young South Koreans who find themselves with no way of getting ahead in life, the cryptocurrency market is the fairest financial playground to date, in that it doesn’t require insider knowledge controlled by a limited number of institutions and individuals — the very thing that moves the traditional stock market.
Unfortunately, the mood in my cryptocurrency chat room has been gloomy since South Korean justice minister Park Sang-ki suddenly announced on Jan. 11 that regulators were preparing a legislation to ban cryptocurrency trading (over accusations of facilitating speculation and money-laundering). The announcement, which was retracted by the presidential office days later, caused global cryptocurrency prices — and the value of my investment — to plummet.

(There’s now an online petition to the president asking the government not to regulate cryptocurrency trading. It has been signed by more than 200,000 people as of Jan. 16.)
But investing in cryptocurrency isn’t just some irrational or (potentially) illegal business that worried academics, out-of-touch luddite government officials and seemingly know-it-all journalists make it out to be.
Because, what other options are there for wealth accumulation in this new gilded age? Private broadcaster SBS’s show “We Want to Know the Truth” recently examined the bitcoin investment phenomenon, featuring a 22-year-old South Korean speculator who turned an investment of 80,000 won ($75) into some 28 billion won ($26 million) as an example of what many are aspiring to become.
In the same episode, one ordinary investor described his I-have-nothing-to-lose mentality in this way: “Whether you have 50 million won in your bank account, or lose that 50 million won on bitcoin trading, you are still a ‘dirt spoon.’”  

And I am not really that much better off. I already realized that my hard work and determination likely won’t translate into job and social security in South Korea. At times cryptocurrency seems like my only life jacket, and I am joined by many other young South Koreans who believe the same.

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Millennials are flocking to cryptocurrency and cannabis stocks, TD Ameritrade CEO says (AMTD)

[Image: timhockey-3.jpg]TD Ameritrade
  • We talked to TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey about investing, markets, and millennials. 
  • He says the $1.2 billion brokerage has seen a huge uptick in interest surrounding cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and cannabis stocks. 

Millennials are leading an investment revolution. Now the largest demographic in the economy, young investors under 35 are catalyzing a transformation in the asset management and stock trading world. 
Investment accounts opened by this demographic rose 72% annually, TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey told Business Insider.
In a wide-ranging interview following the $1.2 trillion brokerage’s earnings report that beat Wall Street expectations, Hockey said the firm has seen an explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies, cannabis stocks, and ETFs, particularly from millennials.

However, he did caution that the cryptocurrency market was by no means mature. That’s why only a select group of TD Ameritrade clients have access to the Cboe bitcoin futures marketplace, which was launched in December.
Hockey also said TD Ameritrade has seen huge uptick in interest around cannabis and blockchain stocks. Here’s the full interview:
Note: This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity
Graham Rapier: It looks like TD Ameritrade had a phenomenal quarter. What do you attribute those good numbers to? 
Tim Hockey: The headline beat of $0.80 for non-GAAP was a spectacular number versus where most of the analysts were at, which was around $0.51. We think about $0.23 of that was driven by the tax effect, but even then, there were high single-digit cents depending on what you include, in terms of the beat. It was very strong organic growth, as you saw in the results. It was trading levels, it was stock lending, it was margin at all-time highs, so very broad based. 

Rapier: Let's talk about millennials. Is TD Ameritrade doing anything to attract younger investors? Has there been an uptick from the demographic?
Hockey: The way I would describe our distribution strategy is high-tech and right touch. We have the best trading and education platforms in the industry, in my view. And what do younger clients need? They love technology, and we've got the platforms that are the best out there. And they're in need of education, to make sure they are educated investors. They're younger in their investing and trading careers so as a result we've got that combination for them.
It seems to be working because our new accounts opened by millennials are up 72% year-over-year, and that's driven by both our offerings as well as what's of interest in the marketplace right now. Clearly, the two biggest stories of the quarter were the sectors of cryptocurrency and cannabis. Those are two sectors that didn't even exist a few years ago. That has driven the skewing of our new accounts opened to the younger trader and younger investor.
Rapier: How are you attracting them to your firm? Are there any new things you've tried?
Hockey: Funny you should ask, last quarter I sat down at a restaurant with my 26-year-old son and we traded 100 shares of stock at the table using Facebook Messenger's bot. We launched that last quarter. 

Rapier: You recently turned on 24-hour trading, what was the logic behind that new offering? Is it receiving the response you expected?
Hockey: I'm glad you asked! It's 24/5, so that allows clients to participate in after-hours market moving news that they didn't have before because markets were open 9:30 to 4. Previously they had opportunities to do this only in the futures markets, but now we've offered 12 broad-based ETFs that are quite liquid, for example SPY, QQQ, the gold sector, oil, gas, China... these are all broad-based ETFs that can all now be traded 24 hours a day, five days a week. 
It's only been two days, so it's just starting to get traction now in the media. It's still quite narrow, but even last night we're seeing a three cent spread, which is a nice tight range for people to trade in, even after hours. 
Rapier: You also launched bitcoin futures for some clientsback in December, how much interest are you seeing from clients in the cryptocurrency space? Will more products show up soon?
Hockey: We just turned on the Cboe product in a very limited release — just to futures clients that were more sophisticated and understood the risk they were taking, and we'll expand that over time. 

This market is certainly not mature. I would say that what we saw in terms of levels of absolute interest prior to the holiday season seemed to peak. Everybody was talking about crypto of all types all the time because it seemed like it was a one-way increase.
Ever since the pricing has been normalized and there's been a bit of a correction, then you've seen a little bit less froth, if you will, in the market. We've actually seen that in the first few weeks of January, crypto trades — not just the Cboe product, but companies that are related to blockchain — have contributed a couple of points less toward our trading activity. It seems to have peaked just before the holidays. 
The technology certainly has not matured, and I believe the transformative nature of what blockchain can do is only just starting to be understood by the majority of the world. 
Rapier: Will we continue to see more companies pivot to crypto and blockchain?
Hockey: There's a distinction between blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but they are absolutely being conflated in many people's minds. They don't quite understand blockchain but they're being told that it is transformative. What comes with that is cryptocurrencies, and they don't quite understand the linkage between the two and what the differences are between the various ones. 
There's also a bit of FOMO, the fear of missing out. "Oh my god it's only going up, so therefore I need to participate." That's the classic sign of a bit of market hysteria. That will sort itself out as it always does. That's why you've heard many people like Warren Buffett say "we've seen this movie before, it doesn't end well." He's talking about that phenomenon as opposed to the blockchain technology in and of itself. There are some potential cryptocurrency survivors and thrivers as that technology matures. 
Rapier: Have you seen any "Robinhood effect" as other brokerages start to offer commission-free trading?
Hockey: There's been about a 50-year trend to continue to lower the price of a trade for a retail investor. TD Ameritrade, and Chuck Schwab and others, were all born out of a change in regulations in 1975 that allowed us to price what was then $70-$80 per trade, and here we are now down at the $6-7 range.
Our $6.95 price point is an all-in price point, which includes the best education and the best platforms for the best price. Others have a different price point and they sometimes include different things. We're clearly very keen on our value proposition and clearly our clients are too, particularly millennials like we talked about earlier. 
Rapier: Millennials are enthralled with passive investing and ETFs, are you seeing the same trends there? 
Hockey: We have $197 billion in ETFs overall. We just launched last quarter our refreshed ETF market center, which allows up to almost 300 ETFs to be traded for free. People often ask "if people are moving to passive, why would anyone want to be a self-directed trader anymore?" But ironically the instrument that was created as a result of the passive trend was the ETF. Today, ETFs are one of our most actively traded sectors, and it didn't exist a number of years ago. 
The market has had this quite long bull run, in a time where yields and other investment types have been relatively low. So as a result, cost has been a very large factor that people take into account. I think what will happen is, when markets start to top out, and perhaps have a downturn, which is inevitable at some point, there will be a bigger divergence in my own view of active and passive.
People will start to realize that not all instruments go up all the time. Pretty much everybody has been rising on this long-term bull market, but when you actually have a bear market, people continue to want to search for the winners and losers. There will be a bigger distinction between those who are actively winning versus those that are just now starting to ride the passive trend downward with markets, then you'll see a shift back to active trading and investing, in my own view. 
Rapier: What do you think could upset this bull market that's been going for so long now?
Hockey: I'm not a market strategist or economist, but I'm also old, so I've seen this before. In hindsight, there's always something that tips the market over. There's an event or a realization that something was overvalued. If you objectively look back at the turning points in previous cycles, there will be something that will come along.
It's not easy to spot in advance, or everybody would, but it's usually fairly transparent and obvious in hindsight. I can't spot anything, there are lots of good trends and euphoria in corporate America about the tax changes and opportunities to invest.
Unemployment is low. Interest rates are low but rising, maybe that will do it. Debt levels of consumers are increasing, but still not at the rates they were just prior to the last downturn, so it's any one of these factors could do it.

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The CEO of Nasdaq has revealed that it is looking into how it can offer digital currency futures that are different to Cboe and CME offerings.
Speaking to CNBC, Adena Friedman, the chief of the stock exchange, said that Nasdaq was ‘investigating the idea of a cryptocurrency futures.’

“We continue to look at the risk management around that, making sure we are putting the right protocols in place, making sure there’s proper demand, and that the contract is different from what’s already out there,” she said.

Even though an exact timeline has yet to be given early reports suggest that the stock exchange is planning to launch their bitcoin futures as early as the second quarter of 2018. Toward the end of 2017 regulated exchanges, Cboe and CME launched their own bitcoin futures contracts, which helped to push the value of the digital currency up. However, unlike Cboe, which bases its price off of one bitcoin source and CME, which uses four, previous reports indicate that Nasdaq will employ 50.
According to Friedman, though, the Nasdaq futures will be ‘more of an investment than a tracking stock,’ adding:

“What we might look at is more of a total return futures, so it’s a little bit of a different construct.”

However, before approaching the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Nasdaq will first need to determine whether there is a client demand for it and if they feel confident enough to go ahead.
In recent weeks the digital currency market has seen prices plummet, the most obvious of them all being bitcoin. Last month, the cryptocurrency was within touching distance of $20,000 for the first time. However, at the time of publishing it is trading at $11,247, according to CoinMarketCap. A major selloff and increased global regulatory pressure has seen market prices affected.
Despite this, though, many industry players still have faith in where the value of bitcoin is going.
According to Dave Chapman, managing director of cryptocurrency trading firm Octagon Strategy, he has predicted that the price of the digital currency will exceed $100,000 by the end of 2018. Chapman previously projected that bitcoin would past the $10,000 mark before the end of 2017.
Back in December he said:

“I think a lot of people thought I was crazy, a lot of people scoffed at me, but that’s OK.”

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So long as business and technological development continues to go well in Zug, Switzerland’s Economics Minister wants to see the country lead the world in cryptocurrency-related innovation.

Johann Schneider-Ammann, Switzerland's economics minister, has said that the landlocked country should strive to "become the crypto-nation" if experiences in the Canton of Zug, colloquially known as Crypto Valley, remain positive. He made the comment in an interview with the news outlet SRF, as well as in a speech to the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, where he spoke after receiving a so-called "crypto award."

Switzerland, he said, has led the chargein many innovative sectors over the years, and with cryptocurrencies comprising "part of the fourth industrial revolution," it could make sense for the country to take the lead on this front as well. He related that he supports "the circles that deal with it" so that they can help determine whether or not cryptocurrencies (and presumably their underlying blockchain technology) represent "a future business with future jobs or … not."
Though he mostly restrained himself from exalting the technology outright, he opined that banks which dismiss cryptocurrency fever as nothing more than hype are doing so out of "professional" concerns, as the digital assets threaten to "directly" affect their field of business. If the risks of the technology prove to outweigh its benefits, though, Swiss authorities would then rather "do without" it.

"It is too early" to say whether cryptocurrencies merit regulation, he said.
On the subject of the recently-formed blockchain working group – staffed by members drawn from the StateSecretariat for International Financial, the Financial Market Authority, and the Federal Office of Justice – he remarked that the body would "provide guidance on where to look and to make recommendations as to where new directions might lead."

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Bitcoin has been dealt another blow — Stripe will no longer accept payments with the decentralized cryptocurrency.

It seems like Bitcoin is getting battered this week with its declining value, but Stripe's decision is pretty logical and inevitable.

As the company explained in a blog post, "Bitcoin has evolved to become better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange." 
It says the usefulness of the coin as a payment method has decreased and fees are through the roof — transaction fees were above $50 at one point at the height of the Bitcoin bubble late last year.
Stripe will stop accepting Bitcoin transactions as of April 23 and start slowing down support services in the next three months.

Quote:Stripe to end support for Bitcoin because it’s a terrible for making transactions:
— Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) January 23, 2018

This isn't the first company to back off Bitcoin payments because of hefty fees, volatile shifts in value, and slow processing. Stripe said it's seen an increase in failure rates for transactions, frustrating everyone in the process.
Despite backing off Bitcoin, Stripe said, "we remain very optimistic about cryptocurrencies overall." 
Even a Bitcoin conference bumped up against the Bitcoin-sucks-as-a-transaction-currency issue and wouldn't allow tickets to be purchased with the cryptocurrency. So it's not you, it's them.

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