China Passes Law Protecting Cryptocurrency Inheritance

China Passes Law Protecting Cryptocurrency Inheritance

China has passed the country’s long-awaited civil code which expands the scope of inheritance rights to include cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin. Inherited cryptocurrencies will be protected under the new law. Meanwhile, several Chinese courts have recently ruled that bitcoin and ethereum are properties protected by law.

Inherited Cryptocurrencies Protected by Law

The third session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, voted on and passed the “Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China” on Thursday. In addition to general and supplementary provisions, the civil code ”includes six parts on real rights, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and tort liabilities,” Xinhua News Agency reported.

Noting that the decision to draft a civil code was announced in October 2014 and the legislative process started in June 2016, the news outlet detailed:

[The new civil code] states that the property rights of individuals are equally safeguarded to those of the State and collective, and online virtual assets are protected, too.

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress where the country’s long-awaited civil code, which addresses crypto inheritance, was voted on and passed.

Wang Chen, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, told the session that “The compilation of the civil code is an important component of the plans of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core for developing the rule of law,” the publication conveyed. This new civil code will enter into force on Jan. 1, 2021.

The scope of inheritance has been expanded from the existing law. Under the new civil code, “virtual assets, such as bitcoins, [can] be inherited,” as are all property legally acquired by a natural person, the news outlet emphasized.

Wang Liming, executive vice president of the Renmin University of China and a law professor, was quoted as saying: “The civil code is the first law to carry the title ‘code’ for the People’s Republic of China. It lays down the fundamental principles and regulations regarding civil activities and relations. It reflects the will of the people and protects their rights and interests.”

Several Chinese courts have also ruled that cryptocurrencies are property that should be protected by law. For example, the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court ruled that bitcoin is an asset protected by law while the Shenzhen Futian District People’s Court ruled that ethereum is legal property with economic value.

Meanwhile, China is working on issuing its own central bank digital currency but there is currently no timetable for the launch, Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), told reporters this week. Internal pilot tests have been conducted in various cities “to check the theoretical reliability, system stability, conveniency, applicability and risk controllability of the digital currency,” the governor confirmed.

What do you think about China’s new civil code protecting inherited cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Grayscale Bitcoin Trust Buys Over 1.5 Times Total BTC Mined Since Halving

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust Buys Over 1.5 Times Total BTC Mined Since Halving

Grayscale Investments has purchased more than 1.5 times the number of bitcoins mined since the third Bitcoin halving for its bitcoin trust. This indicates that there is a strong institutional demand for the cryptocurrency, which is expected to grow significantly post the coronavirus crisis.

GBTC Buys 1.5 Times the Amount of Bitcoin Mined After Halving

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) has been racking up the number of BTC it has purchased since the third Bitcoin halving. Between May 12 and May 18, the week following the halving, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust acquired 12,021.15320371 bitcoins representing $112,336,936, according to Grayscale Investments’ filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The following week, from May 19 to May 26, the trust aggregated 6,889.32628892 bitcoins representing $65,231,657. During the two-week period, Grayscale Investments bought a total of 18,910.47949263 bitcoins. Analyst Kevin Rooke tweeted on Wednesday:

Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust bought 18,910 bitcoins since the halving. Only 12,337 bitcoins have been mined since the halving.

This means Grayscale Bitcoin Trust added more than 1.5 times the number of bitcoins mined during the two-week period after the third Bitcoin halving. This represents a major increase in its buying. For the 100-day period ending May 17, news.Bitcoin.com previously reported that Grayscale Investments purchased 33% of all bitcoin mined.

“Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust is on a whole new level in 2020 … Institutional money has arrived,” Rooke asserted last week. In response to his analysis showing GBTC’s average weekly investment of $29.9 million in Q1 2020, a substantial increase from the $3.2 million in the first quarter of last year, Grayscale CEO Barry Silbert hinted on Twitter: “just wait until you see Q2.”

All Grayscale Investments’ cryptocurrency products as of May 28: Bitcoin Trust, Bitcoin Cash Trust, Ethereum Trust, Ethereum Classic Trust, Horizen Trust, Litecoin Trust, Stellar Lumens Trust, XRP Trust, Zcash Trust, and the Digital Large Cap Fund.

As of May 28, Grayscale Investments’ total assets under management (AUM) is $3.7 billion, spread over 10 cryptocurrency investment products. Among them, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust has the largest AUM of $3,302.2 million, followed by Grayscale Ethereum Trust with an AUM of $292.6 million. Grayscale previously revealed that 88% of all capital inflows in the first quarter were from institutional investors, dominated by hedge funds. Both the Bitcoin Trust and the Ethereum Trust saw record capital inflows.

Analysts have predicted rising institutional demand for cryptocurrency after the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis. Several billionaire investors have also recommended investing in bitcoin as they expand their portfolios’ exposure to the cryptocurrency. With the sheer amount of bitcoin Grayscale has been purchasing, Rooke noted:

Wall Street wants bitcoin, and they don’t care what Goldman Sachs has to say.

His tweet followed Goldman Sachs’ client call about bitcoin, during which the firm highlighted its negative outlook towards the cryptocurrency. Goldman Sachs told its clients that cryptocurrencies “are not an asset class,” ignoring a ruling by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which found cryptocurrencies to be a commodity. Meanwhile, another major investment bank, JPMorgan Chase, is warming up to bitcoin and has reportedly begun providing banking services to crypto clients.

What do you think about the amount of BTC Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is buying? Let us know in the comments section below.

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JPMorgan to Pay $2.5 Million to Settle Lawsuit for Overcharging Crypto Fees

JPMorgan to Pay $2.5 Million to Settle Lawsuit for Overcharging Crypto Fees

JPMorgan Chase has reportedly agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a crypto class-action lawsuit. Originally filed in 2018, the suit alleges that the bank overcharged customers for buying cryptocurrencies using Chase credit cards, classifying the purchases as cash advances.

JPMorgan Settles a Crypto Class Action Lawsuit

JPMorgan Chase allegedly overcharged its customers who bought cryptocurrencies with their Chase credit cards. The bank decided to treat the purchases as “cash advances,” which carry higher fees than normal purchases. A class-action lawsuit was filed in 2018 and was settled out of court in March this year. As part of the deal, JPMorgan Chase is not admitting to the wrongdoing. Reuters reported Thursday that according to the motion filed in Manhattan federal court this week, JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle the lawsuit, noting:

Plaintiffs said the settlement would result in class members getting about 95% of the fees they said they were unlawfully charged.

One of the plaintiffs, Brady Tucker, claims that JPMorgan violated the Truth in Lending Act since the bank did not inform customers that cryptocurrency purchases were being treated as cash advances. This classification resulted in higher fees charged to customers. In his complaint, Tucker explained that the bank charged him more than $160 in fees and interest for regularly purchasing cryptocurrencies from Coinbase with his credit card and refused to refund the charges.

When the lawsuit was filed, JPMorgan was hostile towards cryptocurrency at the time. CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin “a fraud” but later admitted to CNBC that he regretted doing so.

JPMorgan has come a long way since its initial stance on bitcoin. The bank even created its own stablecoin called JPM Coin, which is “a digital coin designed to make instantaneous payments using blockchain technology,” its website describes. “It is a digital coin representing United States dollars held in designated accounts at JPMorgan Chase N.A. In short, a JPM Coin always has a value equivalent to one U.S. dollar.”

Recently, it has also been reported that the bank now provides banking services to two bitcoin exchanges, Coinbase and Gemini. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase reported a 70% decline in profits in the first quarter as the bank expects the coronavirus-led economic crisis to worsen.

What do you think about JPMorgan’s $2.5 million settlement? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Leading Australian Regulated Micro-Investing App Adds Bitcoin Option for Investors

Leading Australian Regulated Micro-Investing App Adds Bitcoin Option for Investors

Popular demand for cryptocurrency has prompted Australia’s leading micro-investing platform Raiz (formerly Acorns) to add a bitcoin investment option. Individual investors can round up their spare change and regularly invest in a bitcoin investment portfolio.

Leading Australian Micro-Investing App Now Offers Bitcoin Exposure

Australia’s leading micro-investing platform Raiz announced on Tuesday that it has launched a portfolio with a bitcoin allocation. The new portfolio, called Sapphire, took 18 months to develop. Its investment objective “is to provide exposure to bitcoin in a managed, risk-adjusted way,” the company described. Raiz CEO George Lucas commented:

Although this latest portfolio offering from Raiz is very high risk, feedback from many customers has clearly shown that they have an appetite for an investment strategy that has an exposure to cryptocurrencies.

Leading Australian Regulated Micro-Investing App Adds Bitcoin Option for Investors
Raiz’s investing platform and app.

“Many of our investors are millennials,” Raiz noted, adding that millennials are “more inclined to put money into crypto assets,” citing a report by U.S. brokerage firm Charles Schwab published in December last year. The company was previously known as Acorns Australia but changed its name to Raiz as it became an independent Australian company, breaking away from its original U.S. Acorns brand.

Raiz will trade and store bitcoin with Gemini, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange and custodian founded by the Winklevoss twins. Gemini is a New York trust company regulated by the state’s Department of Financial Services. Gemini Managing Director of Operations Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto opined:

Raiz is advancing micro-investments via its new portfolio that provides customers an opportunity to invest in bitcoin in a thoughtful, regulated manner.

Leading Australian Regulated Micro-Investing App Adds Bitcoin Option for Investors
Structure of Raiz’s investments showing nine ETFs and the Sapphire portfolio with bitcoin allocation.

Ways to Invest and Portfolio Choices

In addition to the Sapphire portfolio, Raiz offers nine other exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with different asset allocations and risk profiles, ranging from conservative to aggressive. The ETFs are quoted on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

There are three ways investors can fund their Raiz investment account. The first is by making a lump sum deposit. The second is by using the Raiz app’s round-up feature, and the third is by setting up a recurring deposit daily, weekly, or monthly. The round-up feature allows investors to link various payment methods — such as bank account, credit card or debit card — to their Raiz accounts and then round up the change from every transaction. These round-up contributions are then transferred into their Raiz investment accounts manually or automatically for investment.

Sapphire aims to have 5% of its funds invested in bitcoin, with the remaining 95% comprising ETFs of U.S., Australian, European, and Asian large-cap stocks, and Australian corporate debt and money markets. “Raiz is not a trading tool, so Sapphire is a secure way to get bitcoin exposure without the complexities of trading,” the company claims. “With a target 5% asset allocation, the Sapphire portfolio provides investors a chance to reap the potential of bitcoin while limiting their exposure in a risk-adjusted way.” Nonetheless, due to the risks associated with cryptocurrency, “The minimum suggested investment timeframe [for the Sapphire portfolio] is more than five years,” the company recommends.

What do you think about Raiz adding bitcoin as an option for investors? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Trump Threatens to Close Down Social Media Platforms After Twitter Tampers With His Tweets

Trump Threatens to Close Down Social Media Platforms After Twitter Tampers With His Tweets

A row with Twitter has provoked U.S. President Donald Trump to threaten to close down social media platforms. This follows Twitter tampering with Trump’s tweets to alert people to fact check his claims. Trump is further outraged by Twitter’s use of “fake news” sources to fact check his tweets. Meanwhile, some people are happy with Twitter’s action.

Trump Warns Social Media Platforms: Clean Up Your Act or Be Shut Down

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to regulate or shut down social media companies after Twitter added a warning to two of his tweets, alerting readers to fact check the president’s claims. Outraged, Trump tweeted back at Twitter that the company “is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.” He added: “They are saying my statement on mail-in ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by fake news CNN and the Amazon Washington Post.” He further exclaimed:

Twitter is completely stifling free speech, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen … Republicans feel that social media platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.

Trump Threatens to Close Down Social Media Platforms After Twitter Tampers With His Tweets

“We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again,” Trump declared. “Just like we can’t let large scale mail-in ballots take root in our country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, social media. Clean up your act, now.”

Trump’s Tweets Spark Twitter Storm

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted several times about mail-in ballots. Two particular tweets read: “There is no way (zero) that mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The governor of California is sending ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a rigged election. No way.”

Trump Threatens to Close Down Social Media Platforms After Twitter Tampers With His Tweets

However, Twitter for the first time attached a message that reads “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” to Trump’s tweets, linking to a page disputing the president’s accuracy. The page states that “Trump makes [an] unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud,” citing news sources Trump often calls “fake news.” According to the page, Trump’s “claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.”

Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign manager, issued a statement on Tuesday in response to Twitter’s action. “We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters,” he wrote, adding:

Partnering with the biased fake news media ‘fact checkers’ is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility.

Some People Commend Twitter for Fact-Checking Trump

Comments flooded Twitter on the matter, with some criticizing Twitter’s action for editing any tweets at all while others are glad that Trump got fact-checked. One user commented: “Twitter made a huge mistake. They have now injected themselves into a U.S. election and decided to become editorialists, rather than a platform. All platform protections should be immediately revoked and Twitter should be treated as a publisher. They did this to themselves.”

Another user opined: “So glad that Twitter fact checked the lies spew by Donald Trump, if they have done that early we could have avoided listening to POTUS lying about the coronavirus and saved over 100,000 American lives.” A third user expressed, “Frankly, it’s appallingly that Trump has not been banned across all platforms for his constant lies and dangerous misinformation. We all have to follow the rules,” adding:

They’re a private business with terms and conditions. When you violate those terms, there are consequences.

Besides Twitter, other centralized platforms, like Youtube, have been known to censor users’ posts, prompting them to look for decentralized alternatives, such as Zeronet, Mastodon, and Gab.

What do you think about Trump’s threat and Twitter fact-checking Trump? Let us know in the comments section below.

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IMF Predicts Banks Will Struggle at Least 5 More Years After Global Economy Recovers

IMF Predicts Banks Will Struggle At Least 5 More Years After Global Economy Recovers

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that banks will struggle to generate profits at least five years after the global economy recovers from the coronavirus-led economic crisis. The IMF explained that banks were struggling even before the covid-19 pandemic so their troubles “will extend to at least 2025, well beyond the immediate effects of the current situation.”

Banks to Face at Least 5 More Years of Hardship

The IMF expects that banks will continue to struggle to generate earnings after the global economy recovers from the economic crisis. In its most recent “Global Financial Stability Report,” the IMF examined banks across nine advanced economies and found that they will struggle to generate profits over the next five years as the coronavirus pandemic causes a sustained period of low interest rates. The IMF described:

Banks’ earnings challenges emerged prior to the recent covid-19 episode and will extend to at least 2025, well beyond the immediate effects of the current situation.

“The covid-19 outbreak is an additional test to banks’ resilience,” the IMF elaborated. “Underlying profitability pressures are likely to persist over the medium- and longer-term even once the global economy begins to recover from the current shock.”

Banks’ earnings have already been severely hit by the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic, with several of the largest U.S. banks reporting massive losses in Q1 2020. The KBW Nasdaq Bank Index, a benchmark stock index of the U.S. banking sector, has fallen 39% year to date. Wells Fargo’s first-quarter earnings fell 90% while JPMorgan Chase’s profit dropped 70%. Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley also saw their profits plunge. However, Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski pointed out that banks have not taken substantial credit losses so their large provisions for loan losses in the first quarter lack “economic substance.” Significant loan losses are expected in the second quarter.

IMF financial counselor Tobias Adrian pointed out that “Banks go into this crisis with a lot of capital and liquidity.” Nonetheless, he added:

This is a very, very severe economic crisis.

The European Banking Authority (EBA), however, said Monday that it expects banks in Europe to be able to withstand the potential credit risk losses from the economic crisis. The EBA noted that “the extent to which banks will be affected by the crisis is expected to differ widely, depending on how the crisis evolves, the starting capital level of each bank and the magnitude of their exposures to the most affected sectors.”

Meanwhile, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs last month that more than 100 countries have asked for emergency assistance so far. The IMF has declared a global recession, predicting the worst global crisis since the Great Depression with a cumulative loss estimate to global GDP of around $9 trillion.

What do you think about the IMF’s prediction? Let us know in the comments section below.

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RBI Confirms No Ban on Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Businesses or Traders in India

RBI Confirms No Ban on Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Businesses or Traders

India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has confirmed that there is no longer any banking ban on crypto exchanges, companies, or traders. This follows the supreme court decision to quash the RBI circular prohibiting banks from providing services to any customers dealing in cryptocurrencies. The ban lasted for almost two years.

RBI Finally Confirms No Banking Ban

The Reserve Bank of India has confirmed in response to a Right to Information (RTI) request that there is currently no banking ban on the crypto industry.

The RTI query was filed on April 25 by B.V. Harish, co-founder of Unocoin, a major Indian cryptocurrency exchange. He asked whether the RBI has “prohibited any banks from providing the bank accounts for crypto exchanges, companies or crypto traders.” The RBI replied on May 22:

As on date, no such prohibition exists.

RBI Confirms No Ban on Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Businesses or Traders
Part of the RBI’s reply to the RTI query filed by Unocoin co-founder B.V. Harish. Image courtesy of B.V. Harish.

After several hearings, the Supreme Court of India quashed the RBI circular which banned banks from providing services to anyone or any businesses dealing in cryptocurrencies in March. The circular was issued in April 2018. Soon after the court’s verdict, cryptocurrency exchanges began bringing back INR support after about two years without it.

Nonetheless, some banks are reportedly still refusing to open accounts for crypto exchanges, claiming that they are waiting for further instructions from the RBI regarding cryptocurrency. “Bankers have been saying that they need new RBI circulars mentioning that there are no more restrictions for them to provide bank accounts for crypto businesses,” Harish was quoted by the Economic Times as saying. “Now, we have received a positive response from the RBI.” However, the central bank is not obligated to inform commercial banks of the supreme court’s ruling. The RBI also previously confirmed that cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, are legal in India.

After the banking restriction was lifted, several cryptocurrency exchanges began seeing 10X trading volumes and a substantial increase in new users. While economists have predicted the worst recession ever for India, the crypto industry is booming despite the extended nationwide lockdown. Peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces for bitcoin are growing in India, new crypto exchanges are launching and new investments are flowing in.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is still discussing whether to regulate cryptocurrency; the process has been delayed due to the coronavirus crisis and the nationwide lockdown. In March, it was reported that the Indian government was discussing ways to regulate cryptocurrencies with the central bank.

Do you think India will soon regulate cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Goldman Sachs Hosting Bitcoin Call as Institutional Interest in Cryptocurrency Surges

Goldman Sachs Hosting Bitcoin Call as Institutional Interest in Cryptocurrency Surges

As interest in cryptocurrency grows among institutional investors, global investment banks, like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, are reexamining their views about bitcoin. Goldman Sachs is hosting a call for its clients to learn about the implications of current policies for bitcoin, gold, and inflation.

Goldman Sachs’ Bitcoin Call for Clients

New York City-headquartered investment bank Goldman Sachs is hosting a call for clients on May 27 entitled “US Economic Outlook & Implications of Current Policies for Inflation, Gold and Bitcoin.” Goldman Sachs’ Investment Strategy Group, part of the firm’s Consumer and Investment Management Division, has issued a notice inviting clients to the call where they can learn about bitcoin.

Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Goldman Sachs’ head of Investment Strategy Group and chief investment officer for Wealth Management, will host the event. She is responsible for the firm’s overall strategic asset allocation and tactical investment strategy.

Goldman Sachs Hosting Bitcoin Call as Institutional Interest in Cryptocurrency Surges

Two other economists will join her for the call. One is Jason Furman, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and professor at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The other is Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs’ chief economist and head of Global Economics and Markets Research. According to the firm, Hatzius is also a two-time winner of the Lawrence R. Klein Award for the most accurate U.S. economic forecast, including during the global financial crisis.

Goldman Sachs Schedules Bitcoin Call Amid Rising Institutional Demand for Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies, particularly bitcoin, have been gaining interest among institutional investors. A recent report by PWC and Elwood Asset Management shows that cryptocurrency hedge funds’ assets under management have been growing steadily, rising more than $2 billion at the end of last year. “I expect the crypto hedge fund industry to grow significantly over the coming years,” PWC partner and global crypto leader Henri Arslanian said.

Institutional investors have been gaining exposure to bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies via Grayscale Investments’ products. The company revealed that the majority of its record-high investment in the first quarter (88%) came from institutional investors, dominated by hedge funds. Most went into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC). It was further revealed that the company bought a third of all bitcoin mined in three months. The average weekly investment in the first quarter was $29.9 million in Q1 2020, a substantial increase from $3.2 million in the same time period last year. Grayscale CEO Barry Silbert hinted that the purchase in the second quarter will be even higher. “Just wait until you see Q2,” he tweeted.

An increasing number of billionaire investors are also increasing their investment portfolios’ exposure to bitcoin or recommending bitcoin as a hedging strategy. Among them are Virgin Galactic chairman Chamath Palihapitiya, Galaxy Digital CEO Michael Novogratz, and famous hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones. Several economists and analysts have predicted that more institutional investors will be investing in cryptocurrency post the covid-19 crisis, such as this Japanese analyst and SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce.

Investment firms, like JPMorgan Chase, that were previously skeptical about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are coming around and beginning to embrace them. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon used to call bitcoin a fraud but later regretted making the statement about the cryptocurrency. In addition, JPMorgan Chase is recently said to have accepted two bitcoin exchanges, Coinbase and Gemini, as banking clients.

Many people in the cryptocurrency community view Goldman Sachs’ bitcoin call as a bullish move for the industry. “Bitcoin is inevitable, all who have gone against it are now being forced to kneel, first JPMorgan, now Goldman Sachs,” one Twitter user wrote. “Even banks realize fiat money is losing value … The race is on,” another tweeted. A different Twitter user chimed in: “After having criticized bitcoin so much, calling it a scam, Goldman Sachs is now feeling the wind shift. Many opponents will do the same by changing their opinions in the months and years to come. The bitcoin revolution will take place with or without their support.”

Goldman Sachs has not released the details of what aspect of bitcoin it will discuss during the call, drawing an array of speculation on social media. While some are optimistic, others believe the hype may be premature. Goldman Sachs recently predicted the worst recession for India and believes that a deep and prolonged recession would warrant negative interest rates in the U.S. despite Fed Chairman Jerome Powell dismissing the strategy.

What do you think about Goldman Sachs discussing bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.

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US Real Estate Crisis: Home Sales Plunge to 9-Year Low, Mortgage Delinquencies to Soar Past Great Recession Level

US Real Estate Crisis: Home Sales Plunge to 9-Year Low, Mortgage Delinquencies to Soar Past Great Recession Level

The US real estate market is facing a crisis as unemployment soars amid the coronavirus pandemic. Home sales have plunged to a nine-year low and a record-high number of homeowners are defaulting on their mortgage payments. The impact of the real estate crisis is also seen in rental and commercial real estate markets.

Massive Declines in Home Sales, Housing Starts

The economic crisis, coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns, and record-high unemployment have severely affected the real estate market. Existing home sales, which make up about 90% of all U.S. home sales, plunged 17.8% month-on-month in April, an equivalent of 17.2% slump year-on-year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The percentage decline was the largest since July 2010. The annualized figure of 4.33 million units represents the slowest sales rate since September 2011.

The numbers are based on closed sales of contracts signed in late February and March. The April drop in closings is the largest one-month decline since July 2010, during the subprime mortgage crisis when the homebuyer tax credit expired. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, was quoted by CNBC as saying:

Certainly with the lock-down occurring from mid-March, and given the shakiness from the stock market in February, that hurt pending contracts, so now we are seeing an almost 20% decline in existing homes sales.

In addition, the supply of homes for sale fell 19.7% annually in April to 1.47 million units. Noting that this is “the lowest April inventory figure ever,” the news outlet conveyed, “Not only did potential sellers decide not to list their homes, as job losses mounted and the economy shut down, but some sellers already on the market pulled their listings.”

The inventory drop pushed home prices to a new nominal high. The median price of an existing home sold in April rose 7.4% from a year earlier to $286,800. “Price appreciation in the 7% range is unhealthy,” Yun explained, adding that the only way for the price growth to slow down is to “get more listings and also more home construction.”

US Real Estate Crisis: Home Sales Plunge to 9-Year Low, Mortgage Delinquencies to Soar Past Great Recession Level
Existing-home sales in the U.S. plunged 17.8% month-on-month in April due to the effects of high unemployment and coronavirus lockdowns. Inventory, homebuilding, and new home construction permits also fell sharply.

U.S. homebuilding dropped by the most on record in April while housing starts plunged 30.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000 units, the lowest level since early 2015. Permits for future home construction also dropped 20.8% to 1.074 million units during the month, the lowest level since January 2015.

Mortgage Delinquencies Forecasted to Exceed Great Recession Level

As unemployment soars and the effects of the shutdown are further realized, a record number of homeowners are defaulting on their mortgage payments. A recent report by U.K.-based economic forecasting firm Oxford Economics estimates that 15% of homeowners will fall behind on their monthly mortgage payments due to the coronavirus crisis — a level exceeding that seen during the Great Recession when the peak delinquency rate was 10%.

In April, mortgage delinquencies surged by 1.6 million, the largest single-month jump in history, according to mortgage data analytics provider Black Knight. The national delinquency rate soared to 6.45% in April, nearly doubling from 3.06% in March and three times the previous single-month record set in 2008. Over four million borrowers are now past due, the most since 2015. The Washington Post reported:

Not even during the Great Recession did delinquencies rise this fast. During that time, it took 18 months before there was a single-month increase as large.

The latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that more than 4.1 million homeowners (about 8.16% of all mortgages) are in forbearance. Mortgage rates have also gone up as increased risk of default has caused a number of lenders to impose stricter borrowing requirements. JPMorgan, one of the country’s largest lenders, now requires customers to have a credit score of at least 700 to be eligible for most new home loans and must have saved funds equivalent to a 20% down payment.

“Lenders are announcing more stringent underwriting requirements and exiting some products completely,” said Lendingtree chief economist Tendayi Kapfidze. “This means many potential homebuyers and those looking to refinance will have greater difficulty accessing credit.” Oxford Economics wrote, “The uncertainty in the mortgage market has contributed to a significant tightening of lending standards that may persist even once a recovery is underway.”

US Real Estate Crisis: Home Sales Plunge to 9-Year Low, Mortgage Delinquencies to Soar Past Great Recession Level
Oxford Economics has estimated that 15% of homeowners will fall behind on their monthly mortgage payments — a level exceeding the number seen during the Great Recession.

The flood of forbearance requests and delinquent loans has put enormous strain on servicers, the companies that collect monthly payments and distribute them to the investors who own the loan, including mortgage-backed securities. Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) have taken steps to reduce the burden on servicers. The two U.S.-government sponsored entities will be allowed to purchase loans in forbearance. While Oxford Economics said an increase in foreclosures is “inevitable,” many people are likely able to stay in their homes due to the wide availability of loan forbearance.

Rental and Commercial Real Estate Need Help to Avoid Unprecedented ‘Housing Disaster’

The economic crisis has also hit the rental and commercial real estate sectors. A growing number of office and apartment building owners are falling behind on their mortgages while commercial real estate tenants fall behind on rent at unprecedented rates in some areas, particularly those with lockdowns lasting months. The biggest shopping center in the U.S., the Mall of America, has missed two months of payments on its $1.4 billion mortgage.

With over 43 million renters nationwide, the rental market makes up nearly 40% of all U.S. housing. Over 62% of renters are concerned about being able to make rent payments, according to Edison Research. An April survey from the Washington D.C.-based think tank Urban Institute shows that almost half of renters report some kind of financial hardship. Some of the largest commercial landlords in New York City, for example, have reported steep declines in rent payments from its tenants over the past month. One landlord in New York City reported that 80% of retail tenants missed rent.

The Community House Improvement Program, representing around 4,000 landlords of rent-stabilized apartment buildings, said this week that two-thirds of its members’ commercial tenants did not pay rent in April and May. Moreover, nearly 25% of its members’ residential tenants did not pay rent this month compared to the usual 15% before the coronavirus pandemic. Jay Martin, the group’s executive director, commented:

Unless the federal government steps in to help renters and owners in a big way, we are going to see a housing disaster the likes of which we have never seen.

The effect of unemployment, exacerbated by coronavirus lockdowns, is severe on the rental market, especially in cities like New York, where about 70% of the population rents. While renters struggle to make their rent payments, landlords struggle to pay the annual property taxes on their buildings. Jan Lee, a third-generation landlord, told Bloomberg that there is no forbearance on property taxes, so the city can impose fees, fines and liens, and eventually seize his properties. “My entire family’s work over three generations will be gone,” he bewailed.

In most places, rents are still due. Ashford Westchase apartments in Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city where 55% of all residents are renters, for example notified its tenants that “Despite what you may have heard in the media, rent is still due and evictions will be filed.”

Meanwhile, New York-based Real Capital Analytics Inc. revealed last week that commercial real estate transactions in the U.S. fell 71% to $11 billion in April, the lowest level since April 2010. Economists, such as those at Deutsche Bank, expect the housing market downturn, coupled with a collapse in consumer spending, business investment, and manufacturing, to shrink the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) nearly 40% in the second quarter, the deepest fall since the 1930s.

What do you think about the US real estate situation? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post US Real Estate Crisis: Home Sales Plunge to 9-Year Low, Mortgage Delinquencies to Soar Past Great Recession Level appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Illegal to Own Gold? Hedge Fund Manager Warns Governments May Ban Gold Ownership

Illegal to Own Gold? Hedge Fund Manager Warns Governments May Ban Gold Ownership

A well-known hedge fund manager has warned that governments may ban private gold ownership. He explained that central banks may attempt to demonetize gold, making it illegal for private individuals to own, as the authorities lose control of inflation amid the coronavirus-led economic crisis.

Is Gold Safe? Governments May Make Owning Gold Illegal for Private Individuals

Central banks might outlaw private gold ownership if they lose control of inflation amid the coronavirus crisis, London-based hedge fund manager Crispin Odey warned clients in a letter seen by Bloomberg on Wednesday. He was quoted by the news outlet as saying:

It is no surprise that people are buying gold. But the authorities may attempt at some point to demonetise gold, making it illegal to own as a private individual.

Illegal to Own Gold? Hedge Fund Manager Warns Governments May Ban Gold Ownership
U.K.-based hedge fund manager Crispin Odey has warned that governments may ban personal gold ownership for private individuals if they lose control of inflation.

The hedge fund manager added that the governments “will only do this if they feel the need to create a stable unit of account for world trade.” He has compared the current coronavirus crisis to the Great Depression of the 1930s, arguing that central banks would fail to contain inflation as the economy eventually recovers from the impact of global lockdowns.

Odey, a high-profile hedge fund manager known for his apocalyptic predictions, has repeatedly criticized central banks’ policies. He launched his company, Odey Asset Management, in 1991. Citing inflation forecasts of 5% to 15% within 15 months, he predicted that high inflation would hurt long-dated bonds and growth stocks, betting that gold will benefit as high inflation follows the coronavirus crisis. His flagship investment fund, the Odey European Inc., gained 21% in March but was down 9.5% in April, his letter to clients discloses. He increased his fund’s gold position during April and holdings of June gold futures represented 39.9% of the fund’s net asset value at the end of the month, up from 15.9% at the end of March.

Possibility of Governments Seizing Gold During Crisis

Many gold owners fear that their governments could seize their gold, pointing to the U.S. confiscating people’s gold during the Great Depression in 1933. The government of then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt seized all gold bullion and coins via Executive Order 1602, forcing citizens to sell their gold at well below market rates. A new official rate for gold was subsequently set that was much higher as part of the Gold Reserve Act 1934. In his letter to clients, Odey warned:

History is filled with examples where rulers have, in moments of crisis, resorted to debasing the coinage … I very much expect that the authorities will fight these prevailing trends for every inch of the way, but I also expect them to lose the fight.

What do you think about governments banning private gold ownership? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Trump Signs Deregulation Order to Boost US Economic Recovery

Trump Signs Deregulation Order to Boost US Economic Recovery

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to eliminate “unnecessary regulations that impede economic recovery” following the coronavirus crisis. With this deregulation, government agencies are “encouraged to promote economic recovery through non-regulatory actions.”

Trump Signs Deregulation Order to Help Economic Recovery Following Coronavirus Crisis

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to eliminate “unnecessary regulations that impede economic recovery,” the media quoted him as saying. This latest deregulatory effort is aimed at helping the U.S. economy recover from the impact of the covid-19 crisis, Trump announced. According to the executive order published by the White House:

The heads of all agencies are also encouraged to promote economic recovery through non-regulatory actions.

Trump’s deregulation order directs federal agencies to “identify regulatory standards that may inhibit economic recovery” and take appropriate action, including “issuing proposed rules as necessary, to temporarily or permanently rescind, modify, waive, or exempt persons or entities from those requirements … for the purpose of promoting job creation and economic growth.”

Trump Signs Deregulation Order to Boost US Economic Recovery
U.S. President Donald Trump signed a deregulation executive order to help speed up the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Democratic lawmakers were quick to criticize Trump’s action, arguing that it will allow the government to get rid of important protections. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ted Cruz commented:

Every regulation that was waived during this crisis should remain waived and we should begin repealing the most costly of the major regulations that have accumulated over the past decade.

Some people in the cryptocurrency industry view this deregulation order by Trump as a positive move, hoping that less regulation would lead to fewer enforcement actions on crypto activities. Some also hope that the deregulation would increase the chance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approving a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) while others are more skeptical. So far, the SEC has not approved any bitcoin ETF proposals.

Do you think Trump’s deregulation order will affect the crypto industry? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Bitcoin Use on Darknet Markets Jumps 65% to Over $400 Million in First Quarter

Bitcoin Use on Darknet Markets Jumps 65% to Over $400 Million in First Quarter

Bitcoin transactions on darknet markets jumped 65% in value during the first quarter to $411 million, according to research by a blockchain analytics firm. The amount of bitcoin sent from darknet entities to mixers also grew rapidly as exchanges with verification requirements became less popular among darknet users.

Growing Bitcoin Use on Darknet Markets

Crystal Blockchain’s analytics team published on Tuesday an analysis of the use of bitcoin on darknet markets. The researchers analyzed darknet interactions with exchanges and “other entities” throughout Q1 2020. The data obtained were then compared to historical darknet activity from the past three years. Other entities include “payment processors, gambling services, illegal services, miners, marketplaces, online wallets, ransom extortioners, scams, stolen coins, and/or others,” the team clarified. Crystal Blockchain is a crypto analytics platform developed by the Bitfury Group.

The researchers wrote, “The amount of money being transferred by darknet entities is still growing, and they are continuing to use bitcoin as a medium of transport,” adding:

The value of the amount of bitcoin transferred (measured in USD) grew by 65% … The mass adoption of bitcoin, as well as its ease of use and popularity, is a contributing factor.

“If we consider the amounts in USD, we see that darknet entities received and sent an increased amount of money — from $384m in Q1 2019 to $411m in Q1 2020,” the team continued. “This is partly explained by the growing capitalization of bitcoin, as well as further mass adoption of bitcoin. As it becomes increasingly easier to use cryptocurrency, the popularity of this payment method is steadily increasing.”

Darknet Bitcoin Use Jumps 65% to Over $400 Million in First Quarter

While the overall transfer value increased, the number of bitcoins transacted through darknet markets actually declined. Darknet entities sent approximately 64,000 BTC and received roughly the same amount in the first quarter of last year. In comparison, they sent 50,000 BTC and received 47,000 BTC in Q1 2020. “These drops in bitcoin received and sent could be due to the growing popularity of altcoin usage by darknet entities,” the team speculated.

According to analytics data provider 1000x Group, most of the major darknet markets that are currently up and running allow only bitcoin: Silk Road 3.1, UAS Service RDP, Hydra, Wannabuy RDP, Slilpp, Sipulimarket, Uniccshop, and Tor Market. Monopoly Market and White House Market allow only monero. Cannazon allows both bitcoin and monero while Darkbay and Empire allow BTC, LTC, and XMR.

Growing Use of Mixers by Darknet Entities

The Crystal Blockchain analytics team also found that the amount of bitcoin sent to exchanges requiring KYC verification fell during the quarter. This suggests “a reduction in the use of cryptocurrency exchanges for criminal and darknet activities in favor of more anonymous services like mixers,” the team presumed, noting:

In Q1 2020, there was a rapid growth in the amount of bitcoin sent from darknet entities to mixers.

Darknet Bitcoin Use Jumps 65% to Over $400 Million in First Quarter

The number of bitcoins sent from one darknet entity to another also grew in the first quarter, prompting the researchers to theorize that darknet users could be trying to hide their bitcoin flow inside of the darknet to avoid detection of their activities. Meanwhile, darknet entities sent significantly more coins to mixers this year, up from 790 bitcoins in Q1 2019 to 7,946 bitcoins in Q1 2020. The research team shared:

This indicates a rapid adoption of crypto mixing services by darknet entities.

Moreover, the amount of bitcoin that mixing services sent to darknet entities nearly tripled, from 106 bitcoins in Q1 2019 to 288 bitcoins in Q1 2020. Crystal Blockchain’s researchers concluded, “it seems that exchanges with verification requirements are becoming less popular as a way to withdraw bitcoin from darknet entities, while mixers are becoming more popular for withdrawing from darknet entities.”

What do you think about bitcoin’s growing use on darknet markets? Let us know in the comments section below.

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5000 BTC Giveaway Scam: Chamath Palihapitiya, Elon Musk Not Giving Away Bitcoin

5000 BTC Giveaway Scam: Chamath Palihapitiya, Elon Musk Not Giving Away Bitcoin

The number of bitcoin giveaway scams has been increasing rapidly amid rising prices cryptocurrencies and deepening economic crisis worldwide. These scams claim that famous people are giving away bitcoin, such as Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.

Bitcoin Giveaway Scams on the Rise

Bitcoin giveaway scams claiming that celebrities are giving away bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are on the rise as unemployment grows during the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crises. Videos featuring live interviews with Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya and a “5000 BTC Giveaway” have been regularly appearing on Youtube. The videos explain:

To participate you just need to send 0.1 BTC to 20 BTC to the contribution address and we will immediately send you back 0.2 BTC to 40 BTC to the address you sent it from.

The videos elaborate that the more bitcoin you send, the more bitcoin you will get back, emphasizing that “You can participate only once.” For example, the scammers claim that if you send 20 bitcoins, you will get 40 bitcoins back.

5000 BTC Giveaway Scam: Chamath Palihapitiya, Elon Musk Not Giving Away Bitcoin
A screenshot of a Youtube video featuring an interview with Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya and a 5000 BTC giveaway scam. The interview was actually a replay of the Coinsummit interview of Palihapitiya which took place several years ago.

Each video displays a bitcoin address and an URL of a website containing additional information. “We believe that blockchain and bitcoin will make the world more fair and open. The current financial system is outdated,” the scam website notes, claiming:

To speed up the process of cryptocurrency mass adoption, we have committed to a total of 5,000 bitcoin to give away.

The website also has information on a “special bonus,” which states that “If you send 5+ BTC you will be airdropped 10+ BTC back + 50% bonus.”

Youtube has banned a number of these scam videos but they still keep reappearing regulatory. At the time of this writing, at least four 5000 BTC giveaway scam videos featuring Palihapitiya are listed on the Google-owned video-sharing platform.

5000 BTC Giveaway Scam: Chamath Palihapitiya, Elon Musk Not Giving Away Bitcoin
List of live streaming videos on Youtube claiming that Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya is giving away a total of 5,000 bitcoins. However, this is a scam and anyone sending any bitcoin to the addresses displayed on the videos will never receive anything in return.

Other than famous billionaire investors like Chamath Palihapitiya, celebrities and politicians have also been targeted by cryptocurrency giveaway scams. Last week, there was a similar bitcoin giveaway scam that featured former U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire media executive and former mayor of New York City dropped out of the race to become the president of the United States on March 4. The fake Michael Bloomberg bitcoin giveaway video asked viewers to transfer between 0.1 BTC and 250 BTC to the bitcoin address displayed on the screen. Cryptocurrency exchanges and their CEOs have also been targeted, such as Coinbase and its CEO, Brian Armstrong.

Scam Websites Claim Elon Musk Giving Away Bitcoin and Ethereum

Another popular person often featured by bitcoin scammers is Tesla CEO Elon Musk. A website mimicking the Medium publishing platform keeps appearing under different URLs. It claims to be the official Elon Musk BTC and ETH giveaway website. Scammers promote the giveaway on various social media platforms, such as Twitter and Reddit. After a certain period of time, the same site will relocate to a different URL and the previous domain name will no longer be reachable.

5000 BTC Giveaway Scam: Chamath Palihapitiya, Elon Musk Not Giving Away Bitcoin
This website claims to be the official Elon Musk BTC and ETH giveaway website, but it is a scam as the Tesla CEO is not giving away bitcoin.

“Our marketing department here at Tesla HQ came up with an idea: to hold a special giveaway event for all crypto fans out there … If you want to participate, it is really simple to do,” the scammers wrote. “If you send in 5 BTC or 100 ETH, you will get the grand prize: a brand new Tesla Model S Performance with midnight silver metallic, solid black and red multi-coat exterior, delivery included. DM me on Twitter if you did that and we will organize the delivery as soon as possible.” The website also provides two “official” links for visitors to get “free” bitcoin and ethereum.

Giveaways in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies like the ones featured above are scams. Billionaire investors like Palihapitiya often say good things about bitcoin, including advising people to have 1% of their assets in the cryptocurrency. Musk recently told Harry Potter author JK Rowling that bitcoin is “solid” compared to governments’ fiat money. However, none of them are giving away any bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Be wary of anyone promising to double any bitcoin you send them as this setup is always a scam.

What do you think about bitcoin giveaway scams? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post 5000 BTC Giveaway Scam: Chamath Palihapitiya, Elon Musk Not Giving Away Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Economists Predict Worst Recession Ever for India Amid Lockdown Extension

Economists Predict Worst Recession Ever for India Amid Lockdown Extension

Economists have predicted that India will face its worst recession ever as the country announced another nationwide lockdown extension. India’s economy is forecasted to contract 45% in the second quarter following the Rs 20 lakh crore coronavirus relief stimulus package which some economists call “aimless” and a “lost opportunity.”

Economists Predict Worst Recession Ever for India

Two leading global investment management firms, Goldman Sachs and Bernstein, have predicted that “India will experience its deepest recession ever,” according to reports. The forecasts came as the Indian government extended the country’s nationwide lockdown until May 31 while easing some restrictions to boost economic activity during the coronavirus crisis. India’s lockdown was introduced on March 25 and has been extended several times.

Goldman Sachs India Securities’ chief economist Prachi Mishra and chief Asia economist Andrew Tilton estimated in a report dated May 17 that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) will contract by an annualized 45% in the second quarter compared to the prior quarter. The firm previously forecasted a slump of 20% for the country with approximately 1.4 billion people. Goldman Sachs’ estimates imply that India’s real GDP will plunge by 5% in the 2021 fiscal year, deeper than any other recession the country has ever experienced. The economists explained:

The deeper trough in our Q2 forecasts reflects the extremely poor economic data we have received so far for March and April, and the continued lockdown measures, which are among the most stringent across the world.

Meanwhile, analysts at Bernstein have forecasted an even sharper contraction of 7% for India. As for the recovery, Goldman Sachs’ economists expect a rebound of 20%, stronger than previously predicted. Subsequent quarterly growth estimates were left unchanged at 14% and 6.5%.

U.S.-based investment companies Goldman Sachs and Bernstein have predicted the worst recession ever for India amid another round of nationwide lockdown extension and an “aimless” Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package.

Indian Government’s Reform Measures Criticized

The predictions by Goldman Sachs and Bernstein followed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s multi-day briefings on the country’s Rs 20 lakh crore ($265 billion) economic stimulus package, equivalent to about 10% of India’s GDP. The last measures of this coronavirus relief package were unveiled on Sunday.

However, some people have pointed out that the stimulus package includes measures already announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), such as the liquidity measures. Bloombergquint commented, “While the headline number is huge, the actual government spending remains small with the RBI’s earlier measures forming the biggest part.” Bernstein analysts Venugopal Garre, Ankit Agrawal, and Ranjeet Jaiswal were quoted by the New Indian Express publication as saying:

While the package started on important aspects but the need to announce measures that add up to this top-down number made the entire package aimless, with several generic announcements which should ideally have been a part of a normal economic agenda.

While the Bernstein analysts applauded a few measures in the stimulus package, they concluded: “Overall, we see it as a lost opportunity.” The analysts elaborated: “The focus should have been on urban, corporates, consumption, infra and impacted sectors, but it was on rural and strange-end markets such as space program. Rural is in control, as farm incomes are protected (good harvest season and a good start to summer crop sowing). Yet, several measures (in the form of loans) were announced for Agri, some of which are already existing programs.”

In addition, Goldman Sachs’ economists believe that the Indian government’s structural reform measures “are more medium-term in nature, and we therefore do not expect these to have an immediate impact on reviving growth.”

What do you think about these predictions for India? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post Economists Predict Worst Recession Ever for India Amid Lockdown Extension appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Germany Enters Recession as Over 100 Banks Charge Negative Interest Rates

Germany Enters Recession as Over 100 Banks Charge Negative Interest Rates

Germany has plunged into a recession with the worst quarterly contraction since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008, according to official data. Over 100 banks in the country are now charging customers negative interest rates.

Germany Enters Recession

The German economy is now in a recession according to data released Friday by the country’s Federal Statistical Office, Statistisches Bundesamt. The authority announced:

The corona pandemic hits the German economy hard … [Q1’s contraction] was the largest decrease since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009 and the second-largest decrease since German unification.

“A larger quarter-on-quarter decline was recorded only for the 1st quarter of 2009 (-4.7%),” Statistisches Bundesamt confirmed. The Federal Statistical Office reports to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Europe’s biggest economy shrank 2.2% in the first three months of the year. The eurozone economy fell by its sharpest rate on record at 3.8% in the first quarter.

Germany Enters Recession as Over 100 Banks Charge Negative Interest Rates
The figures for the final three months of 2019 were revised to show a contraction of 0.1%, which means Germany’s GDP growth has been negative for two successive quarters, the technical definition of a recession.

Economists, including those at Deutsche Bank, expect a worse slump in the second quarter as the full effects of the lockdown become apparent. Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that if the coronavirus’ transmission rate worsens, Germany could return to the lockdown measures.

Over 100 Banks Charging Negative Interest Rates

Throughout the recession and the covid-19 crisis, the number of banks charging negative interest rates in Germany has been climbing rapidly. In April, news.Bitcoin.com reported that 80 banks were passing on the burden of negative interest rates to some of their customers. At the time of this writing, that number has grown to more than 100 banks.

Examples of banks charging negative interest rates in Germany. News.Bitcoin.com has provided an expanded list of banks charging negative rates in the country here. Source: Verivox

The German consumer comparison portal Verivox has examined about 800 banks in Germany and found that well over 100 banks are now charging negative interest rates. The portal divides them into three categories.

Among banks charging negative interest rates, 94 of them have published their rates online or on their account price sheets. Ten more banks are charging fees on overnight deposit accounts which are usually free, therefore creating de facto negative interest rates on these accounts. In addition, the consumer portal noted that based on media reports, 22 other banks are charging negative interest rates but they have yet to publish their rates online. Moreover, each bank has its own rules of what accounts are charged negative interest rates.

What do you think about the economic situation in Germany? Let us know in the comments section below.

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JK Rowling Bitcoin Quest: Elon Musk Joins Community to Explain Cryptocurrency to Harry Potter Author

JK Rowling Bitcoin Quest: Elon Musk Joins Community to Explain Cryptocurrency to Harry Potter Author

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has become inundated with bitcoin insight and cryptocurrency explanations when she tweeted asking someone to explain to her what bitcoin was. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those trying to explain bitcoin to Rowling. He believes that bitcoin is “solid” compared to governments’ fiat money.

JK Rowling Wants to Understand Bitcoin

British author J.K. Rowling, famed for writing the Harry Potter book series, tweeted on Friday: “I don’t understand bitcoin. Please explain it to me.” Her query, which had been retweeted about 2,400 times and liked about 9,400 times at the time of this writing, has drawn tons of responses from the crypto industry. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has sold more than 500 million copies and was adapted into a film franchise.

Comments immediately flooded the Twitter thread after Rowling tweeted as crypto enthusiasts seized this unique opportunity to explain bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the famous author and her 14.6 million followers. Some people provided their own explanations while others linked to well-known work, books, or articles online. Several people even custom-made videos to explain bitcoin and its benefits to her.

Among responders to Rowling’s request was Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. He described: “It’s a digital currency. There’s ~18m units of it. It’s not backed by anything, it’s just valuable because it is, like collectibles … There’s a network of computers (which anyone can join) that maintains a decentralized global excel spreadsheet of how many coins each person has.” Noting that “People find it interesting because there is no central authority that controls this network, so there’s no single group of people that can just go and issue more units to their friends or manipulate its rules for political reasons,” Buterin elaborated:

Basically global digital payments, plus the store of value properties of gold, all with 21st century cryptographic tech to keep the whole thing running safely.

The author of the famous Harry Potter children’s book series, JK Rowling, asked about bitcoin on Twitter and was showered with information and insight about cryptocurrency.

The Twitter account for Gemini, the New York-based cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins, tweeted: “Contrary to popular belief bitcoin is not ‘magic’ money.” There was also a discussion of what bitcoin fixes and Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song briefly asserted:

Money is broken. Bitcoin is the fix.

Song included a link to “The Little Bitcoin Book: Why Bitcoin Matters for Your Freedom, Finances, and Future” on Amazon. Some people saw Rowling’s request as an opportunity to promote their work, such as The Bitcoin Standard’s author, Saifedean Ammous, who told Rowling that he would be “Happy to mail you a copy of my book JK.”

Tron founder Justin Sun quickly offered 1 BTC to Rowling: “I can send you 1 bitcoin. Seeing is believing … Just imagine a magic coin (bitcoin) Dumbledore don’t understand (like Warren Buffett) but Harry Potter is fascinated about it.” Sun and a small group of people in the crypto industry recently had lunch with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO after winning it at a charity for $4.57 million. The Tron founder also gifted Buffett 1 BTC but the billionaire passed it onto a charity. Sun was also recently rumored to have received a $2 million grant from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the coronavirus stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed into law in March.

Some other examples of the responses Rowling received include “Bitcoin is like fire insurance you’d buy for your home but instead of your home on fire, it’s economic & government systems around the world” and “Imagine that something exists which doesn’t actually exist. That’s Bitcoin.” Some explained bitcoin as “Digital money that cannot be tampered with. Doesn’t require Banks to send it. Bitcoin has a finite supply, therefore is not subject to inflation like $/£” and “Imagine money is like alcohol. Everyday more and more is being printed so it constantly dilutes the alcohol. Bitcoin is like the purest form of alcohol that cannot ever be diluted. You can enjoy the same taste 5, 10, or 100 years down the line.” One Twitter user wrote:

Bitcoin is designed so that it eliminates the need for trust. It’s backed by advanced math, you won’t understand.

JK Rowling Still Confused About Bitcoin, Elon Musk Explained Bitcoin Is ‘Solid’

After many people attempted to explain bitcoin to Rowling, she was still confused. “God bless every single one of you now earnestly explaining bitcoin to me as though I’ll grasp it if you break it down properly. Things like this are white noise to me,” Rowling admitted. “I cannot and will not ever understand Bitcoin, but I love you for thinking that I can or will.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also explained what bitcoin is to JK Rowling before confirming that he still only owns 0.25 BTC. Musk also said that bitcoin looks solid when compared to central banks’ fiat money.

Among those who tried to explain the concept of bitcoin and cryptocurrency to Rowling was Elon Musk. The Tesla and Spacex CEO wrote, “Massive currency issuance by govt central banks is making Bitcoin Internet money look solid by comparison.” He added, “I still only own 0.25 bitcoins btw.” Musk recently criticized the U.S. government’s stimulus relief plans and also came under fire himself when he said the Tesla stock price was “too high,” which immediately sent the price downward.

Paxful CEO Ray Youssef chimed in. He wrote: “It is true Ms. Rowling bitcoin doesn’t add value to your life. It may however add value to those around you who help you with services. So many of them send money back home and bitcoin used for p2p can save them so much time and money.”

Some people believe that Rowling was just upset that she did not get into bitcoin while its price was lower. Ivan on Tech speculated: “Maybe JK Rowling is just jealous that she didn’t buy bitcoin early enough and missed out on massive gains … Now she is trying to spread FUD to bring back the price.”

Rowling later admitted: “This started as a joke, but now I’m afraid I’ll never be able to log in to Twitter again without someone getting angry I don’t own bitcoin. One day you’ll see a wizened old woman in the street, trying to trade a Harry Potter book for a potato. Be kind. She did try to understand.” She noted that she is “just about able to grasp a barter system. Talk of collectibles, tokenomics and blockchains and my brain just takes a walk.” The famous author opined:

I’m sure cryptocurrencies are fascinating. I’ve genuinely tried to grasp the very detailed information I’ve been sent tonight (people close to me understand it & have tried to explain it when I’m stone cold sober), but I’m afraid this is a total blind spot to me.

Does JK Rowling Own Any Bitcoin Right Now?

After several hours of tweetstorm in response to the Harry Potter author’s quest to understand bitcoin, fake JK Rowling Twitter accounts started to actively participate in the discussion.

One tweet from an account impersonating Rowling reads, “Ok Ok Ok. You guys win. I just bought my first bitcoin.” This tweet has since been deleted but not before it was seen by many people, including Rowling herself who acknowledged, “a fake JK Rowling account has made a purchase of bitcoin.”

While most people just ignored the fake account, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong replied to it seriously. “Welcome to crypto,” Armstrong wrote. “Grab a Coinbase account when you’re ready to use that bitcoin (not just hold it), and get into any of the many other cryptos out there.” Rowling confirmed on Saturday morning:

In case I haven’t effectively demonstrated my ignorance between last night & this morning, I don’t own bitcoin.

Marcus Swanepoel, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Luno, pointed out that “this is a good reminder for us all on how much work there is still to do to educate on bitcoin … People can criticize JK Rowling all they like but 1. she is making a genuine effort to understand and 2. is a good proxy for the general population.”

A number of people in the crypto space have created bitcoin explainer videos for Rowling. Girl Gone Crypto, for example, made a Harry Potter-themed video specifically for Rowling called “Muggle’s Guide to Bitcoin.” Ethereum co-founder and creator of Cardano Charles Hoskinson made a Youtube video entitled “What is Bitcoin for JK Rowling” and urged others to make a similar effort to explain the concept of cryptocurrency for those who may be interested in learning more. Bitcoin.com also has a wide range of educational resources for anyone looking to learn about bitcoin and bitcoin cash.

Whether JK Rowling decides to buy bitcoin or not, the crypto community has viewed her quest to understand bitcoin as a great awareness drive for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. At the very least, she has tweeted multiple times about bitcoin to her 14.6 million Twitter followers.

What do you think about JK Rowling’s attempt to understand bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post JK Rowling Bitcoin Quest: Elon Musk Joins Community to Explain Cryptocurrency to Harry Potter Author appeared first on Bitcoin News.

JK Rowling Bitcoin Quest: Elon Musk Joins Community to Explain Cryptocurrency to Harry Potter Author

JK Rowling Bitcoin Quest: Elon Musk Joins Community to Explain Cryptocurrency to Harry Potter Author

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has become inundated with bitcoin insight and cryptocurrency explanations when she tweeted asking someone to explain to her what bitcoin was. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those trying to explain bitcoin to Rowling. He believes that bitcoin is “solid” compared to governments’ fiat money.

JK Rowling Wants to Understand Bitcoin

British author J.K. Rowling, famed for writing the Harry Potter book series, tweeted on Friday: “I don’t understand bitcoin. Please explain it to me.” Her query, which had been retweeted about 2,400 times and liked about 9,400 times at the time of this writing, has drawn tons of responses from the crypto industry. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has sold more than 500 million copies and was adapted into a film franchise.

Comments immediately flooded the Twitter thread after Rowling tweeted as crypto enthusiasts seized this unique opportunity to explain bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the famous author and her 14.6 million followers. Some people provided their own explanations while others linked to well-known work, books, or articles online. Several people even custom-made videos to explain bitcoin and its benefits to her.

Among responders to Rowling’s request was Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. He described: “It’s a digital currency. There’s ~18m units of it. It’s not backed by anything, it’s just valuable because it is, like collectibles … There’s a network of computers (which anyone can join) that maintains a decentralized global excel spreadsheet of how many coins each person has.” Noting that “People find it interesting because there is no central authority that controls this network, so there’s no single group of people that can just go and issue more units to their friends or manipulate its rules for political reasons,” Buterin elaborated:

Basically global digital payments, plus the store of value properties of gold, all with 21st century cryptographic tech to keep the whole thing running safely.

The author of the famous Harry Potter children’s book series, JK Rowling, asked about bitcoin on Twitter and was showered with information and insight about cryptocurrency.

The Twitter account for Gemini, the New York-based cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins, tweeted: “Contrary to popular belief bitcoin is not ‘magic’ money.” There was also a discussion of what bitcoin fixes and Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song briefly asserted:

Money is broken. Bitcoin is the fix.

Song included a link to “The Little Bitcoin Book: Why Bitcoin Matters for Your Freedom, Finances, and Future” on Amazon. Some people saw Rowling’s request as an opportunity to promote their work, such as The Bitcoin Standard’s author, Saifedean Ammous, who told Rowling that he would be “Happy to mail you a copy of my book JK.”

Tron founder Justin Sun quickly offered 1 BTC to Rowling: “I can send you 1 bitcoin. Seeing is believing … Just imagine a magic coin (bitcoin) Dumbledore don’t understand (like Warren Buffett) but Harry Potter is fascinated about it.” Sun and a small group of people in the crypto industry recently had lunch with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO after winning it at a charity for $4.57 million. The Tron founder also gifted Buffett 1 BTC but the billionaire passed it onto a charity. Sun was also recently rumored to have received a $2 million grant from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the coronavirus stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed into law in March.

Some other examples of the responses Rowling received include “Bitcoin is like fire insurance you’d buy for your home but instead of your home on fire, it’s economic & government systems around the world” and “Imagine that something exists which doesn’t actually exist. That’s Bitcoin.” Some explained bitcoin as “Digital money that cannot be tampered with. Doesn’t require Banks to send it. Bitcoin has a finite supply, therefore is not subject to inflation like $/£” and “Imagine money is like alcohol. Everyday more and more is being printed so it constantly dilutes the alcohol. Bitcoin is like the purest form of alcohol that cannot ever be diluted. You can enjoy the same taste 5, 10, or 100 years down the line.” One Twitter user wrote:

Bitcoin is designed so that it eliminates the need for trust. It’s backed by advanced math, you won’t understand.

JK Rowling Still Confused About Bitcoin, Elon Musk Explained Bitcoin Is ‘Solid’

After many people attempted to explain bitcoin to Rowling, she was still confused. “God bless every single one of you now earnestly explaining bitcoin to me as though I’ll grasp it if you break it down properly. Things like this are white noise to me,” Rowling admitted. “I cannot and will not ever understand Bitcoin, but I love you for thinking that I can or will.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also explained what bitcoin is to JK Rowling before confirming that he still only owns 0.25 BTC. Musk also said that bitcoin looks solid when compared to central banks’ fiat money.

Among those who tried to explain the concept of bitcoin and cryptocurrency to Rowling was Elon Musk. The Tesla and Spacex CEO wrote, “Massive currency issuance by govt central banks is making Bitcoin Internet money look solid by comparison.” He added, “I still only own 0.25 bitcoins btw.” Musk recently criticized the U.S. government’s stimulus relief plans and also came under fire himself when he said the Tesla stock price was “too high,” which immediately sent the price downward.

Paxful CEO Ray Youssef chimed in. He wrote: “It is true Ms. Rowling bitcoin doesn’t add value to your life. It may however add value to those around you who help you with services. So many of them send money back home and bitcoin used for p2p can save them so much time and money.”

Some people believe that Rowling was just upset that she did not get into bitcoin while its price was lower. Ivan on Tech speculated: “Maybe JK Rowling is just jealous that she didn’t buy bitcoin early enough and missed out on massive gains … Now she is trying to spread FUD to bring back the price.”

Rowling later admitted: “This started as a joke, but now I’m afraid I’ll never be able to log in to Twitter again without someone getting angry I don’t own bitcoin. One day you’ll see a wizened old woman in the street, trying to trade a Harry Potter book for a potato. Be kind. She did try to understand.” She noted that she is “just about able to grasp a barter system. Talk of collectibles, tokenomics and blockchains and my brain just takes a walk.” The famous author opined:

I’m sure cryptocurrencies are fascinating. I’ve genuinely tried to grasp the very detailed information I’ve been sent tonight (people close to me understand it & have tried to explain it when I’m stone cold sober), but I’m afraid this is a total blind spot to me.

Does JK Rowling Own Any Bitcoin Right Now?

After several hours of tweetstorm in response to the Harry Potter author’s quest to understand bitcoin, fake JK Rowling Twitter accounts started to actively participate in the discussion.

One tweet from an account impersonating Rowling reads, “Ok Ok Ok. You guys win. I just bought my first bitcoin.” This tweet has since been deleted but not before it was seen by many people, including Rowling herself who acknowledged, “a fake JK Rowling account has made a purchase of bitcoin.”

While most people just ignored the fake account, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong replied to it seriously. “Welcome to crypto,” Armstrong wrote. “Grab a Coinbase account when you’re ready to use that bitcoin (not just hold it), and get into any of the many other cryptos out there.” Rowling confirmed on Saturday morning:

In case I haven’t effectively demonstrated my ignorance between last night & this morning, I don’t own bitcoin.

Marcus Swanepoel, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Luno, pointed out that “this is a good reminder for us all on how much work there is still to do to educate on bitcoin … People can criticize JK Rowling all they like but 1. she is making a genuine effort to understand and 2. is a good proxy for the general population.”

A number of people in the crypto space have created bitcoin explainer videos for Rowling. Girl Gone Crypto, for example, made a Harry Potter-themed video specifically for Rowling called “Muggle’s Guide to Bitcoin.” Ethereum co-founder and creator of Cardano Charles Hoskinson made a Youtube video entitled “What is Bitcoin for JK Rowling” and urged others to make a similar effort to explain the concept of cryptocurrency for those who may be interested in learning more. Bitcoin.com also has a wide range of educational resources for anyone looking to learn about bitcoin and bitcoin cash.

Whether JK Rowling decides to buy bitcoin or not, the crypto community has viewed her quest to understand bitcoin as a great awareness drive for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. At the very least, she has tweeted multiple times about bitcoin to her 14.6 million Twitter followers.

What do you think about JK Rowling’s attempt to understand bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Bitcoin Loophole: Wanna Make $13K in 24 Hours? This Crypto Trading App Is a Scam

Bitcoin Loophole: Wanna Make $13K in 24 Hours? This Crypto Trading App Is a Scam

A bitcoin investment scheme claiming to help people make over $13,000 within 24 hours has recently gained more attention. Bitcoin Loophole claims to be an algorithmic crypto trading app that enables its members to make daily profits and become millionaires within 61 days. However, it is a scam associated with a different kind of investment.

Bitcoin Loophole: Crypto Trading App Scam

The record-high unemployment in many countries, led by the coronavirus crisis, has forced many people to look for jobs or ways to make money online. Investment schemes preying on the desperation to make fast cash have multiplied, many of which advertise investments in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies since they have recently outperformed most asset classes.

One bitcoin investment scheme that has recently garnered attention worldwide is called Bitcoin Loophole. Its simple website resembles other known bitcoin investment scams that news.Bitcoin.com has already exposed, such as Bitcoin Trader, Bitcoin Superstar, Bitcoin Era, Bitcoin Revolution, and Bitcoin Evolution.

Bitcoin Loophole claims to be an algorithmic trading software for cryptocurrency markets that can be automated so “There is no investor intervention required,” its website details. You can “make money using the official crypto trading software,” which is AI integrated and uses “advanced technology,” it adds.

Bitcoin Loophole: Wanna Make $13K Today? This Crypto Trading App Is a Scam
The Bitcoin Loophole investment scheme claims to help people make lots of money fast, such as $13,000 within 24 hours. Its website claims that users have made regular income and some became millionaires in two months. However, this site is a scam.

Besides BTC, the Bitcoin Loophole website advertises that members can also trade in a number of other cryptocurrencies — including ethereum, litecoin, ripple, monero, bitcoin cash, and dash — as well as fiat currencies, such as the U.S. dollar and the euro. The self-proclaimed crypto trading app also states that its members “generally make a minimum of $13,000 every single day,” adding that “Little actual work is required” and “some members become millionaires within their first 61-days.” It additionally claims:

It is practically impossible to lose money when trading with Bitcoin Loophole.

In addition, the Bitcoin Loophole website also displays a number of testimonials supposedly from members who have successfully made money using this trading app. These testimonials are fake and the photos of members are merely stock photos publicly available online. The Bitcoin Loophole app is also available in the Google Play store.

Bitcoin Loophole: Wanna Make $13K Today? This Crypto Trading App Is a Scam
The Bitcoin Loophole website displays a bunch of testimonials supposedly from people in the U.S. despite the scheme declaring (after signing up and logging in) that it does not accept U.S. customers.

What’s the Catch?

While the idea of making $13,000 a day with little effort is attention-grabbing, there are many red flags about Bitcoin Loophole. News.Bitcoin.com created an account at Bitcoin Loophole for this review. Once we completed signing up, the following message displayed in the middle of the screen: “You’ve successfully completed the registration and connected to your broker.” Another message then asked us to deposit funds of at least $250 into the account to begin trading. All deposits must be done via credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Maestro, and American Express.

There was a world of difference in the information and tone that the website displays before and after signing into the site. Once logged in, there are no longer any promises of easy profits from bitcoin. Instead, there is a disclaimer that reads:

Bitcoin Loophole does not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information contained within this website.

Another red flag is that before logging in, the website expressly states that it is not a scam and its app is “an award-winning software.” Furthermore, the so-called trading app claims that it “has been acknowledged by major institutions such as the US Trading Association as the best trading tool for cryptocurrency investors.” This is, of course, not true as the company is not registered with any regulators and its app is not recognized by any authorities.

After signing in, the website also displays a notice specifically about U.S. customers. It states: “USA Regulation Notice: Option trading is not regulated within the United States. Bitcoin Loophole is not supervised or regulated by any financial agencies nor US agencies. Any unregulated trading activity by U.S. residents is considered unlawful. Bitcoin Loophole does not accept customers located within the United States or holding an American citizenship.” This disclosure is false as options trading is regulated in the U.S. by the Commodity and Exchange Commission (CFTC).

Bitcoin Loophole: Wanna Make $13K Today? This Crypto Trading App Is a Scam
Bitcoin Loophole is a scam with several red flags. Once you sign up, you will no longer see any information about how easy and risk-free it is to use the system to trade bitcoin. You will, however, see messages about contract for difference trading and how risky this type of investment is.

Bait-and-Switch: CFD Trading Not Bitcoin Trading

After logging into the Bitcoin Loophole website, there is no longer any mention of bitcoin but there are plenty of mentions of contract for difference (CFD) trading. Trading contracts for difference is a way of speculating on financial markets that does not require the buying and selling of any underlying assets.

Based on information displayed on the website after logging in, Bitcoin Loophole looks more like a CFD scam with no element of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies other than its name. It may also be a shady affiliate or referral website for an offshore CFD broker, in the same way Bitcoin Evolution does for a Cyprus-registered investment company. CFDs are high-risk investments and companies often pay huge commissions for client referrals for CFD trading. The Bitcoin Loophole website (after logging in) even has a disclaimer that states: “You may lose some or all of your invested capital, therefore you should not speculate with capital that you cannot afford to lose.”

Many scams have been known to target CFD trading specifically and many authorities have advised how to recognize one. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) warns:

If you are solicited by a company that claims to trade in CFDs and asks you to invest funds, you should be very careful … Get rich schemes, including those involving CFDs, tend to be scams.

The association advised that these scams are “heavily promoted” as an “exciting opportunity” to make money, promising high returns and guaranteeing “little or no risk and high investment returns.” As Bitcoin Loophole did, these scammers would “encourage you to wire your money offshore,” the NASAA detailed. “Be aware that once you transfer funds to a foreign firm, it may be difficult or impossible to get your money back.”

Since scams using the words bitcoin and cryptocurrency have become more rampant, anyone searching for an investment opportunity online should take extreme caution. If you are looking for a legit way to start investing in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin.com has many useful guides to get you started, including how to buy and sell bitcoin.

What do you think about Bitcoin Loophole? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Visa Files Patent for Cryptocurrency System to Replace Cash

Visa Files Patent for Cryptocurrency System to Replace Cash

Visa International has filed for a cryptocurrency system patent that is meant to replace physical currency. The system, which utilizes both central banks and commercial banks, leverages a private blockchain to improve the payment ecosystem.

Visa’s Cryptocurrency Patent Filing

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published on Thursday a patent application entitled “digital fiat currency,” filed by Visa International Service Association on Nov. 8, 2019.

Visa Files Patent for Cryptocurrency System to Replace Cash
The USPTO published Visa’s patent application for “digital fiat currency” on May 14; it was filed on Nov. 8, 2019. Source: Visa’s crypto patent filing with the USPTO.

The filing is for a fiat-linked cryptocurrency system using “a private permissioned distributed ledger platform.” It describes a central computer, its responsibilities, and key roles of the system: central entities, validating entities, redeeming entities, and users. “A central entity may be a central bank, which regulates a monetary supply,” the document details. Validating entities “are blockchain nodes, which may be peers such as banks.” Redeeming entities “may accept physical currency for exchange for digital fiat currency,” such as an ATM or a bank branch location.

The central entity computer generates the digital currency that is recorded on a blockchain and “may determine that a particular digital currency unit should be added to or removed from the blockchain.” According to the filing’s abstract:

The central entity computer causes removal of the physical currency from circulation in a fiat currency system.

The filing further explains that the payment ecosystem may become 100% digital and “cash may be removed from the markets in a frictionless manner” to improve the payment ecosystem. “Users may hold digital currency with the same denomination as the local physical currency.”

It also notes that once the digital fiat currency is issued, “A user or bank may transfer the digital currency from wallet to wallet or store the digital currency on a smart card and transfer the smart card to another entity.”

Visa Files Patent for Cryptocurrency System to Replace Cash
An illustration of the cryptocurrency system Visa is trying to patent. Source: Visa’s crypto patent filing with the USPTO.

A consensus mechanism has not been chosen for the system’s blockchain. “The consensus mechanism may vary depending on the protocol implemented. Some example consensus mechanisms … are proof of stake, Byzantine fault-tolerant algorithms, and crash-fault tolerant algorithms,” the filing details. Other mechanisms explored include a copy of Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, and zero-knowledge proofs. The full filing can be found here.

A Visa spokesperson was quoted by Forbes on Thursday as saying: “Each year we seek patents for hundreds of new ideas … While not all patents will result in new products or features, Visa respects intellectual property and we are actively working to protect our ecosystem, our innovations and the Visa brand.” Commenting on Visa’s cryptocurrency patent filing, lawyer Jake Chervinsky tweeted:

You can’t patent something you didn’t invent or that isn’t new, so Visa’s patent application has to be so narrow that even if it issues, it won’t be much use even if it was enforceable. Finance incumbents won’t be able to use patent law to stop the crypto industry.

Other companies have tried to patent various cryptocurrency systems. For example, Microsoft was recently granted an international patent by the World Intellectual Property Organization for a cryptocurrency system using body activity data.

What do you think about Visa’s crypto patent filing? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post Visa Files Patent for Cryptocurrency System to Replace Cash appeared first on Bitcoin News.

New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill: Second Stimulus Checks Could Be Coming to Americans

New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill: Second Stimulus Checks Could Be Coming to Americans

Americans could be getting their second stimulus checks as a new coronavirus relief bill has been introduced. It includes more direct payments of up to $6,000 per household. The new bill is expected to cost more than $3 trillion, making it the biggest emergency relief package in U.S. history.

$3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled Democrats’ latest coronavirus relief bill called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act on Tuesday. The 1815-page relief package was introduced by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey, chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, a House of Representatives committee responsible for passing appropriation bills.

Party leaders are expected to vote Friday on this package, which provides another set of direct cash payments to Americans. Democrats are calling this bill “a bold response to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse.” According to the bill’s summary, one of the proposals reads:

More direct payments: Cushions the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.

New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill: Americans Could Be Getting Second Stimulus Checks
The Heroes Act, unveiled on Tuesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, includes more direct cash payments to Americans of $1,200 per person and up to $6,000 per household.

According to reports, the income thresholds are the same as in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March. The amount would start to reduce from $1,200 above thresholds of $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.

The bill does not include monthly payments as called for by a number of House progressives, including Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley. It also does not include the Paycheck Guarantee Act, another progressive priority aimed at covering 100% of workers’ wages up to $90,000 per year.

In addition to the second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for qualified individuals, the bill also provides nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments, $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers, $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, an extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit, and $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance.

New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill: Americans Could Be Getting Second Stimulus Checks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the Heroes Act on Tuesday. This new coronavirus relief bill is expected to cost about $3 trillion, which would be the biggest emergency stimulus package in U.S. history.

‘No Chance’ of Passing

Some lawmakers strongly believe that this covid-19 relief package will not pass. Sen. John Barrasso, a member of Republican leadership in the chamber, said that the new coronavirus relief bill is dead on arrival, stating: “That will not pass. It’s not going to be supported.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted that the bill is a “liberal wishlist that was crafted behind closed doors and includes bailouts for blue states and giveaways for billionaires.” He added, “This spectacle has no chance of becoming law … What a waste of taxpayer time.” CNBC detailed:

The new bill is set to cost more than $3 trillion, which easily tops the $2 trillion cost of the late March stimulus package — the biggest emergency spending measure in U.S. history.

One controversial proposal in the bill concerns illegal aliens. Congressman Lance Gooden tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi wants to bail out 14 million illegal aliens in the next round of stimulus spending and give them retroactive payments of $1,200. This so-called Heroes Act is a slap in the face to hard-working Americans who are barely getting by.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday: “I’m in discussion, we all are with the administration. If we reach a decision along with the administration to move to another phase, that’ll be the time to interact with the Democrats.”

Since the covid-19 crisis began, several bills have been enacted in the U.S. The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was enacted on March 6, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, the CARES Act on March 27, and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act on April 24.

What do you think about this bill and more stimulus checks? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Telegram Drops TON Cryptocurrency Project After US Prohibits Global Distribution

Telegram Drops TON Cryptocurrency Project After US Prohibits Global Distribution

Popular messaging app Telegram has shut down its TON cryptocurrency project. Telegram founder Pavel Durov explains that a US court has stopped his TON project and prevented the gram cryptocurrency from being distributed to investors, not just in the US but globally.

Telegram Discontinues TON Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Project

Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov announced on Tuesday his decision regarding the Telegram Open Network (TON) and cryptocurrency project after a long battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). “Today is a sad day for us here at Telegram. We are announcing the discontinuation of our blockchain project … I am writing this post to officially announce that Telegram’s active involvement with TON is over,” the messaging app’s founder wrote, adding:

Unfortunately, a US court stopped TON from happening … the US court declared that grams [cryptocurrency] couldn’t be distributed not only in the United States, but globally.

TON Cryptocurrency Project Shut Down: Telegram Exits Due to US Legal System
Telegram has discontinued its involvement in the TON cryptocurrency and blockchain project, CEO Pavel Durov announced after working on the project for two and a half years.

According to the judge, “a US citizen might find some way of accessing the TON platform after it launched. So, to prevent this, grams shouldn’t be allowed to be distributed anywhere in the world – even if every other country on the planet seemed to be perfectly fine with TON,” Durov conveyed.

Because of the U.S. court’s finding, “we have made the difficult decision not to proceed with TON,” Durov confirmed but noted that this decision could change in the future. “Sadly, the US judge is right about one thing … we are still dependent on the United States when it comes to finance and technology.”

TON Crypto Project and Durov’s Warnings

Durov explained that over the past two and a half years, his team has been working on “a next-generation blockchain platform called TON and a cryptocurrency we were going to name gram,” elaborating:

TON was designed to share the principles of decentralization pioneered by Bitcoin and Ethereum, but to be vastly superior to them in speed and scalability.

TON Cryptocurrency Project Shut Down: Telegram Exits Due to US Legal System
Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has been battling with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since last year when his TON cryptocurrency and blockchain project raised over a billion dollars.

The TON crypto project raised about $1.7 billion from investors in 2018 in an initial coin offering (ICO). However, the SEC halted the sale in October 2019 claiming that the gram tokens were unregistered securities. In March, a U.S. judge affirmed the SEC decision and ruled that the gram cryptocurrency could not be distributed both in the U.S. and globally. Telegram then offered to pay investors back in two ways but U.S. investors only have the option of taking 72% refunds.

The TON developers claim that their blockchain would be faster and more efficient than the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains. According to Durov, “existing networks such as the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains do not have the capability to replace high-volume transaction mechanisms like credit cards and fiat currency,” a court document reads.

Durov warned that some sites may be using his name, the Telegram brand, the name TON or gram cryptocurrency to promote their own projects. “Don’t trust them with your money or data,” he emphasized, adding that no one from his team is involved in any of them. “While networks based on the technology we built for TON may appear, we won’t have any affiliation with them and are unlikely to ever support them in any way. So be careful, and don’t let anyone mislead you,” he cautioned. In conclusion, Durov wrote: “I want to conclude this post by wishing luck to all those striving for decentralization, balance and equality in the world … This battle may well be the most important battle of our generation. We hope that you succeed where we have failed.”

What do you think about the TON crypto project shutting down due to the U.S. legal system? Let us know in the comments section below.

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$2 Billion Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund Industry Set to ‘Grow Significantly’

$2 Billion Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund Industry Set to 'Grow Significantly'

Cryptocurrency hedge funds’ assets under management have been increasing significantly, rising to more than $2 billion at the end of last year, according to a recent survey. The crypto hedge fund industry is expected to “grow significantly” along with the price of bitcoin.

Hedge Funds’ AUMs Doubled in 2019

Cryptocurrency hedge funds’ assets under management more than doubled in 2019, according to a new survey by PWC and Elwood Asset Management Services Ltd. Entitled “2020 Crypto Hedge Fund Report,” the document was published on May 11, the day of the third Bitcoin halving. The data comes from “the largest global crypto hedge funds by assets under management (AUM),” the report details, adding that it includes crypto index funds and crypto venture capital funds.

“Our Q1 2020 research shows that there are around 150 active crypto hedge funds. Almost two thirds of these (63%) were launched in 2018 or 2019,” the report’s authors wrote, elaborating:

We estimate that the total AUM of crypto hedge funds globally increased in 2019 to over US$2 billion from US$1 billion the previous year … The average AUM increased from US$21.9 million to US$44 million.

Most cryptocurrency hedge funds surveyed (97%) traded BTC, followed by ETH at 67%, XRP at 38%, LTC at 38%, BCH at 31%, and EOS at 25%. The substantial increase in AUM could also be attributed to the increase in the prices of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin’s price, for example, rose from $3,872 on Jan. 1 last year to $7,174 on Dec. 31.

$2 Billion Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund Industry Set to 'Grow Significantly'
The top cryptocurrencies traded by crypto hedge funds surveyed by PWC and Elwood Asset Management. Source: Report by PWC and Elwood.

The median AUM at fund launch is $2 million in 2019, “indicating that funds have generally seen a 4X increase in AUM,” the report emphasizes. During the year, the percentage of crypto hedge funds using an independent custodian increased from 52% to 81% and 86% used an independent fund administrator. About 90% of hedge fund investors were either family offices (48%) or high-net-worth individuals (42%). A small percentage of respondents were foundations, endowments, venture-capital funds or funds-of-funds but none cited pension funds.

Furthermore, cryptocurrency hedge funds tend to be domiciled in the same jurisdictions as traditional hedge funds, most of which are in the Cayman Islands (42%), followed by the U.S. (38%) and the British Virgin Islands (8%). The report also points out that the survey results were based on answers by fund managers and were not verified by an independent party.

‘Significant’ Growth Expected

The report additionally finds that “the launch of actively managed crypto funds is highly correlated with the price of bitcoin (BTC)” and “The Bitcoin price spike in 2018 appears to have been a catalyst for further crypto funds to launch.”

$2 Billion Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund Industry Set to 'Grow Significantly'
The number of new cryptocurrency hedge funds launched from 2012 to Q1 2020. Source: Report by PWC and Elwood.

After the third Bitcoin halving, many people expect the price of bitcoin to rise by the end of the year. Among them is Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz who believes that the price of bitcoin would hit $20,000 by December. Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya has been saying that bitcoin’s price could go to $1 million or more while Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead said it could peak at $115,000 by August next year.

Another bullish move for the crypto industry comes from the hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones who revealed on Monday that he has almost 2% of his assets in bitcoin. He explained that he is buying bitcoin as a hedge against the inflation and central banks’ money printing, as bitcoin reminds him of the role gold played in the 1970s.

PWC partner and global crypto leader Henri Arslanian was quoted by Bloomberg on Friday as saying: “The volatility of crypto markets offers many opportunities for quant traders … The performance of crypto quant funds tends to be more linked with market volatility rather than market performance.” He elaborated:

I expect the crypto hedge fund industry to grow significantly over the coming years as investing in a crypto fund may be the easiest and most familiar entry point for many institutional investors looking at entering this space.

Several analysts have predicted that interest in cryptocurrencies from institutional investors will increase post the covid-19 pandemic. Last month, a Japanese analyst outlined three key reasons why institutional demand for cryptocurrencies would rise after the coronavirus crisis. Grayscale Investments recently released its Q1 2020 earnings report showing record capital inflows, 88% of which were from institutional investors. Furthermore, a pro-crypto commissioner with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Hester Peirce, said she sees institutional demand rising.

What do you think about hedge funds increasingly investing in cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

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JPMorgan Chase Starts Accepting Bitcoin Businesses for Banking Services

JPMorgan Chase Starts Accepting Bitcoin Businesses for Banking Services

JPMorgan Chase has reportedly started providing banking services to bitcoin businesses, with the first two clients being Coinbase and Gemini exchanges. JPMorgan also recently recommended having cryptocurrency in investment portfolios as its CEO, Jamie Dimon, changed his mind about bitcoin.

JPMorgan Chase’s Bitcoin Clients

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has reportedly started to accept clients from the cryptocurrency industry. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that two prominent bitcoin exchanges, Coinbase Inc. and Gemini Trust Co., have become banking customers of JPMorgan Chase, citing people familiar with the matter.

The two bitcoin exchanges’ accounts were approved in April and transactions are just starting to be processed, the publication added. JPMorgan Chase is mainly providing cash-management services to the exchanges. It is handling dollar-based transactions for their U.S.-based customers, including processing deposits and withdrawals, through the Automated Clearing House network, and wire transfers.

Many customers of Coinbase and Gemini link their bank accounts to their cryptocurrency accounts so a payments processor is required for handling cash transfers to and from those bank accounts. The services JPMorgan offers do not include handling bitcoin or cryptocurrency transactions for the exchanges.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon used to call bitcoin “a fraud” but later regretted it. Now, his bank has reportedly accepted two bitcoin exchanges, Coinbase and Gemini, as clients.

JPMorgan Warming up to Bitcoin

Large financial institutions are often reluctant to provide banking services to cryptocurrency businesses. Coinbase and Gemini had to go through a long vetting process to get JPMorgan Chase’s approval, which likely took into account the fact that both are regulated bitcoin exchanges in the U.S. Gemini holds a trust charter from the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) while Coinbase is registered as a money services business with Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and also holds a Bitlicense from the DFS. Both are licensed as money transmitters in multiple U.S. states.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon used to call bitcoin “a fraud,” predicting in September 2017 that the cryptocurrency would eventually blow up. “It’s worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed,” Dimon was quoted by CNBC as saying. However, less than five months later, he told the news outlet: “I regret making” those bitcoin remarks.

Furthermore, JPMorgan has launched its own digital currency called the JPM Coin, which is “a digital coin designed to make instantaneous payments using blockchain technology,” its website details. The JPMorgan research team also recently advised in a report that cryptocurrency should be in a portfolio.

What do you think about JPMorgan accepting bitcoin businesses as clients? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Bank of England Predicts Worst Economic Crash in 300 Years for UK

Bank of England Predicts Worst Economic Crash in 300 Years for UK

The Bank of England has predicted the worst economic crash since the Great Frost of 1709. Economists are less optimistic than the central bank about the rate of recovery for the UK economy. “Current conditions are unprecedented in our lifetime and all forecasters are struggling to make out where the economy stands now,” one economist described.

Worst Recession in Over 300 Years

The Bank of England (BOE) has forecasted a devastatingly bleak outlook for the U.K. economy in its most recent monetary policy report published on Thursday ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiling the new guidelines for coronavirus lockdown. The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has “constructed a plausible illustrative economic scenario” to help illustrate the potential impact of the covid‑19 crisis on the British economy. The BOE noted, however, that an unprecedented crisis means the economic outlook is “unusually uncertain,” as it critically depends “on the evolution of the pandemic and how governments, households, businesses and financial markets respond,” the report details.

Based on the bank’s own best estimate and historical data, the coronavirus crisis could push the British economy into the fastest and deepest recession in 300 years, since the huge economic slump of 1706 and the Great Frost of 1709. The U.K. economy could shrink by 14% in 2020, the biggest annual contraction since a decline of 15% in 1706 and 13% in 1709. The overall output is expected to plunge almost 30% in the first half of 2020 — due to a fall of 3% in the first quarter and another 25% drop in the second quarter.

Bank of England Predicts Worst Economic Crash in 300 Years for UK
England could suffer the worst economic recession since the economic slump of 1706 and the Great Frost of 1709, predicted the Bank of England.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey explained that “a failure to lend would create a vicious circle of more bankruptcies and higher losses on loans that would come back to hit the banks themselves,” the Financial Times conveyed. “The better path for banks is to keep lending,” he told journalists. ”If the system [ensures a good supply of loans], we’ll get a better outcome.” Nonetheless, the bank warned that even with adequate lending, the British economy was bound to take a hit, pointing out that household spending has already dropped about 30% since early March.

Commerzbank economist Peter Dixon commented:

Current conditions are unprecedented in our lifetime and all forecasters are struggling to make out where the economy stands now, never mind what happens in future. But it is clear that the next few months are going to produce some of the biggest output falls on record.

The central bank has also forecasted that the unemployment rate in the U.K. is likely to rise to 9% in 2021, a higher joblessness rate than after the 2008-09 financial crisis. The BOE added that the British economy could be on course to shrink by 25% in the three months to June.

Bank of England Predicts Worst Economic Crash in 300 Years for UK
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey is hopeful that the economic rebound in the U.K. will be much more rapid than the global financial crisis. However, some economists do not share his optimism.

Economic Recovery Predictions

The Bank of England governor explained that the economic rebound was likely to happen “much more rapidly than the pullback from the global financial crisis,” the media quoted him as saying. A rough estimate by the central bank assumed long-term damage to the economy would only be 1.5% of gross domestic product and would come from missed business investment in 2020. Otherwise, the bank predicted the economy could bounce back in a V-shaped recovery, unlike the U.S. or world economy.

The Bank of England also said that it stands ready to inject more money into the economy if needed. In March, it pledged £200 billion ($248 billion) to support economic activity by buying government bonds. “It’s a very aggressive purchasing program . . . we have made a very clear commitment to do what it takes to support the economy consistent with the inflation target,” the BOE governor was quoted as saying. Two of the Monetary Policy Committee members, Jonathan Haskel and Michael Saunders, voted to increase quantitative easing (QE) by another £100 billion immediately.

Many economists expect the Bank of England to increase its asset purchase program in June before the extra £200 billion it gave itself in March is exhausted. They believe more QE is coming. Capital Economics’ chief U.K. economist, Paul Dales, believes the central bank was signaling:

More QE is coming, if not in June, then in August.

Some strategists and economists doubt that Britain’s economy will bounce back as quickly as the central bank assumes. Morgan Stanley chief U.K. economist Jacob Nell said: “We see this forecast as credible for 2020, but are less convinced by the 2021 recovery, where we take a more cautious view, implying weaker growth, lower inflation, wider deficits and more MPC action.”

What do you think about the Bank of England’s forecast? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Chinese Court Rules Bitcoin Is Asset Protected by Law

Chinese Court Rules Bitcoin Is Asset Protected by Law

A court in Shanghai, China, has reportedly ruled that bitcoin is an asset protected by Chinese law in a case that has dragged on for years. The case involves a theft of two different cryptocurrencies, one being bitcoin, from an American. The defendants argued that bitcoin was not recognized under Chinese law; the court disagreed, citing documents by the central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

In China, Bitcoin Is Asset Protected by Law

Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court has reportedly ruled on a bitcoin case that has dragged on for multiple years, Chinese media reported on Thursday. The case involved three Chinese and a Malaysian who broke into the home of an American and his Chinese wife on the night of June 12, 2018, East China daily media Shine detailed. After locking the couple up and beating them, the intruders forced them to transfer 18.88 bitcoins and 6,466 skycoins to their account.

The first hearing of this case found that there was an economic dispute and the perpetrators were sentenced to prison for six and a half months to eight months. The defendants agreed to give all the skycoins back but not bitcoins, arguing that cryptocurrencies were not assets under Chinese law so the couple did not have the right to demand them back. The court disagreed and ordered them to return all the cryptocurrencies they took from the couple or pay them what the coins were worth. When the couple received neither the bitcoins nor the equivalent funds, they filed a lawsuit.

The four defendants appealed, reiterating that cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and skycoin, were not legal property under Chinese law. However, Shine news outlet reported on Thursday that the Shanghai court has ordered them to return the coins, adding:

The court found bitcoin to be a digital asset that should be protected by law.

Liu Jiang, the chief judge in the case, explained that the documents released by the central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), have never denied bitcoin as an asset and the laws in China do not prohibit citizens from holding them.

Several other Chinese courts have made a similar ruling on cryptocurrency. For example, the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration recognized cryptocurrencies in a case involving 20 bitcoins, 50 bitcoin cash, and 13 bitcoin diamond in 2018. Last year, the Hangzhou Internet Court also legally recognized bitcoin. Recently, the Shenzhen Futian District People’s Court in Guangdong Province declared ethereum legal property in China.

What do you think about Chinese courts’ rulings on bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.

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New Cryptocurrency Exchanges Launch in India as Businesses Seek Answers From RBI

New Crypto Exchanges Launch in India as Businesses Seek Answers From RBI

The Indian cryptocurrency industry has been growing rapidly despite the nationwide lockdown and the coronavirus crisis. Two new cryptocurrency trading platforms are launching in India while existing crypto businesses seek clarification from the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

New Cryptocurrency Trading Platforms Launching in India

The crypto sector in India is showing significant growth with several crypto exchanges reporting a 10X increase in trading volumes and a substantial increase in new users. Despite the global coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown, new cryptocurrency trading platforms are launching in India.

Global cryptocurrency exchange aggregator Coinswitch is launching a crypto trading app for Indian users on June 1. Announcing pre-registration for Coinswitch Kuber, Coinswitch explained on Wednesday:

Coinswitch Kuber will ensure the best rates by aggregating liquidity across all Indian exchanges and will support over 100 currencies for Indian users to buy and sell easily using Indian rupees (INR).

Coinswitch aggregates the liquidity of a number of crypto exchanges in India to provide its users with the best rates for cryptocurrencies. The exchanges include Binance, Huobi, Kucoin, and Hitbtc. To access this pooled liquidity, users simply enter the INR amount and the cryptocurrency they want to buy, and the service will provide a list of offers at various exchanges that “auto-refreshes every 30 seconds.”

New Cryptocurrency Exchanges Launch in India as Businesses Seek Answers From RBI
Coinswitch Kuber is launching on June 1 for Indian users. Pre-registration has begun and there will be no INR trading, deposit, or withdrawal fees for the first 25,000 users signing up during pre-launch.

The first 25,000 users during pre-launch pay no INR trading, deposit, or withdrawal fees. Users can earn Coinswitch points, or Kuber points, as a part of the new platform’s reward program, which can be redeemed from the reward section once the platform is live.

Besides Coinswitch, another cryptocurrency exchange has launched in India. The Bangalore-based Bitpolo announced on Thursday that it is now live. The exchange offers instant INR deposits and claims that withdrawals are “within seconds.” Chief business officer Suresh Choudhary said:

We were building through the bear market and thought the timing of our launch cannot be more apt than when the world is slowly inching back towards normalcy post a pandemic & recessionary environment.

“As we foresee fragilities of traditional asset classes, crypto markets seem to offer the bigger upside and we intend to bring simplicity and solid technology to the screens of Indian traders and hodlers,” Bitpolo added.

New Cryptocurrency Exchanges Launch in India as Businesses Seek Answers From RBI
The Bitpolo exchange offers trading in INR against a number of cryptocurrencies, such as BTC and ETH.

Businesses Seek Answers From RBI

Ever since the Supreme Court of India quashed the RBI ban, the Indian crypto community has been waiting for more instruction from the central bank. The RBI has not sent any notices to banks regarding the supreme court’s ruling, which has led some banks to continue denying service to crypto businesses. According to reports, the central bank is not obligated to issue any updates.

A number of crypto businesses have reportedly approached the RBI seeking clarity on the status of the banking ban and the taxation of cryptocurrency. “The cryptocurrency exchanges also want clarity as to whether they are being categorized as commodity, currency, goods or service as this is set to impact the way they get taxed under goods and services tax (GST) framework,” the Economic Times reported Monday.

“If the digital assets are not exempted from GST, the digital currency exchanges in India are going to have a standoff with the tax authority,” Praveenkumar Vijayakumar, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Belfrics Global, was quoted by the news outlet as saying. He elaborated:

In the wake of the recent supreme court ruling, we have also approached the RBI for clarity on this, as if we pay GST on the whole transaction, then most platforms would not be able to survive.

Several Indian tax authorities have been examining how to tax bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The indirect tax department has been investigating whether cryptocurrency could be brought under GST and how much to tax crypto exchanges. The sales tax department and VAT authorities are also looking into cryptocurrency taxation.

What do you think about how fast the Indian crypto sector is growing? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Iran to Cut 4 Zeros From Its Currency Amid Chronic Inflation and US Sanctions

Iran to Cut 4 Zeros From Its Currency Amid Chronic Inflation and US Sanctions

Iranian lawmakers have reportedly approved a plan to slash four zeros from the national currency, the rial, which has been falling sharply in value amid chronic inflation and the U.S. sanctions. The official currency will also be replaced. Economists are skeptical about how the changes will affect the Iranian economy.

Cutting 4 Zeros From the Rial

The Iranian parliament has reportedly passed a bill to allow the government to cut four zeros from the national currency, the rial. The country’s weak currency and persistently high inflation have led to street protests since late 2017. According to Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA, a major news agency in the country:

The bill to remove four zeros from the national currency was approved by lawmakers.

Ali Rabiei, a spokesperson for the government of Iran, said in a tweet, “Eliminating the four zeros is a necessary action to simplify financial transactions.” According to reports, the Guardian Council of the Constitution is expected to ratify the law before it can take effect. Iran’s state TV noted that the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) will have two years to implement the changes — removing rials from circulation and issuing tomans instead.

Iran to Cut 4 Zeros From Its Currency Amid Chronic Inflation and US Sanctions
Abdolnaser Hemmati is the current governor of Iran’s central bank. According to the bill passed, the central bank will have two years to implement the changes.

The governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdolnaser Hemmati, has promised to implement the reform as soon as possible, the Financial Times reported. He told the country’s parliament on Monday:

Currently, our money has a horrifying difference with euro and [one rial] equals €0.000006 … The efficiency of the national currency has declined due to chronic inflation over five decades.

The changes are the outcome of a draft bill that Hemmati introduced early last year. The central bank governor noted that his country’s currency had been devalued 3,500 times since 1971. According to reports, the idea of removing four zeros from the national currency has been discussed since 2008, but it became a priority after the U.S. imposed sanctions on the country in 2018.

The value of Iran’s currency has been steadily declining since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 but that drop has accelerated in recent years fueled by U.S. sanctions. Since the Trump administration exited Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the country in 2018, the value of Iran’s currency has fallen by roughly 60%. The Iranian currency was trading at about 163,000 rials per dollar on unofficial markets at the time of this writing. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a further devaluation of the rial since February. To evade sanctions, Iran has also turned to cryptocurrency. The country has approved more than 1,000 bitcoin mining licenses, including Iminer recently.

Iran to Cut 4 Zeros From Its Currency Amid Chronic Inflation and US Sanctions
The value of Iran’s currency has fallen significantly since the U.S. imposed sanctions on the country in 2018.

Changing From Rial to Toman as Currency Falls

Under the plan, Iran’s official currency — the rial — will also be replaced by the toman, with one toman being equal to 10,000 rials, the central bank governor said Monday. While the rial is used in official documents, Iranians have always referred to their currency in daily conversation and business transactions as the toman, with one toman being equal to 10 rials.

“The move has psychological significance on people who do not recognize the rial and always use toman,” a senior businessman was quoted by the Financial Times as saying. “Otherwise, it almost has no economic or financial impacts on the country other than bringing down the costs of issuing notes and coins.” Saeed Laylaz, another economist, is skeptical about the plan, stating:

The change of the currency as well as dropping too many zeros will inadvertently create unnecessary fluctuations in the economic and social structures and will even fuel the inflation … The central bank will drop four zeros but the inflation will quickly bring back two of the zeros.

Iran to Cut 4 Zeros From Its Currency Amid Chronic Inflation and US Sanctions
Some people are skeptical about the changes. “The central bank will drop four zeros but the inflation will quickly bring back two of the zeros,” one economist opined.

Some people have also raised concerns that the changes would add extra expenses at a time when the government was already facing a budget deficit of between 30% to 50% for this coming fiscal year.

Paris-based Iranian economist Fereydoun Khavand explained that usually governments resort to changing the national currency as the last stage of an economic overhaul, citing examples such as what European countries did after World War II or Turkey in recent years. However, he pointed out that Iran has done the opposite due to the crippling effect of U.S. sanctions, “which have severely limited the country’s ability to sell oil or to conduct international financial transactions,” the media quoted him as saying. The economist added that under those circumstances, it is difficult for the Iranian government to make other basic economic changes, elaborating:

You typically fix the economy first and then change the currency … The government is in a financial bind with no prospect of financial aid coming from outside or from inside so they are trying this.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump is fighting Congress over a resolution requiring him to get approval before engaging in further military action against Iran. The nonbinding congressional resolution was introduced after Trump launched an airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

What do you think about the changes Iran is making to its currency? Let us know in the comments section below.

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75 Companies Back Facebook Libra’s Competitor Celo

75 Companies Back Facebook Libra's Competitor Celo

Celo, a competing project to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, has added 50% more new members to its alliance, bringing the total number of supporting organizations to 75. Some Celo members are also supporters of the Libra project, such as Coinbase Ventures, Anchorage, and Andreessen Horowitz.

Celo Project Adds Over 20 Members

The Celo Foundation announced Tuesday a 50% increase in the number of its members. The foundation explained that “The scope of membership remains focused on use cases, furthering the mission of financial inclusion and prosperity, and adoption of Celo’s technology.” Head of the Celo Alliance for Prosperity Chuck Kimble commented:

We are excited to see the Alliance grow by 50% since our initial announcement in March, with organizations committed to creating prosperity, especially in Africa and Latin America.

New members include Ankr, Althea, Bitfy, Blockchain Education Network, Coinfirm, Centrifuge, Dove Wallet, Dunia Pay, Grin, Hex Trust, Latamtech, Mobike, Mycash Online, Netki, Ontology, Paxful, Peixe, Positive Blockchain, Ribon, Transak, United Africa Blockchain Association, and Yellow. The foundation explained that any organization sharing its mission can apply to join the alliance.

75 Companies Back Facebook Libra's Competitor Celo
Current members of the Celo Alliance for Prosperity.

75 Members in Total and Current Projects

The Celo project was launched in March with 50 founding members. Since then, existing members have been working on various projects within Celo. For example, Anchorage and Coinbase announced custody support for the Celo Gold token at launch. A portion of Celo block rewards will be donated to planting trees through Project Wren to support a carbon-neutral decentralized network. Clabs and Appen ran a microwork pilot in Kenya. Upright launched Celo Camp, a virtual accelerator program for sustainable businesses to be built on the Celo platform.

Existing members include Abra, Alice, Alphawallet, Anchorage, Appen, Ayannah, Andreessen Horowitz, B12, BC4NB (Blockchain for the Next Billion), Beamandgo, Bidali, Bison Trails, Blockchain Academy Mexico, Blockchain.com, Blockchain for Humanity (b4h), Blockchain for Social Impact (BSIC), Blockdaemon, Clabs, Cloudwalk Inc, Cobru, Coinbase Ventures, Coinplug, Cryptio, Cryptobuyer, Cryptosavannah, Esolidar, Fintech4good, Flexa, Gitcoin, Givedirectly, Grameen Foundation, GSMA, Kesholabs, Laboratoria, Ledger, Ledn, Maple, Mercy Corps, Metadium, Moon, Moonpay, Pngme, Polychain, Project Wren, Saldomx, Semicolon Africa, The Giving Block, Utrust, Upright, Wyre, Yellow Card, and 88i.

75 Companies Back Facebook Libra's Competitor Celo
Some members of the Celo project are also supporters of the Facebook Libra cryptocurrency project. Libra has recently undergone massive changes, with a new whitepaper.

Competing With Libra

The Celo project has been touted as a competitor to Libra, a project backed by social media giant Facebook. A number of companies are members of both the Libra project and Celo, such as Anchorage, Bison Trails Co., Coinbase Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and Mercy Corps. The Libra website currently lists 24 members of the association, including the newest addition, Checkout.com.

Kimble previously explained that there are some similarities between Libra and Celo in terms of mission, which is why some members have joined both projects. Diogo Monica, president of Anchorage, which is a member of both the Libra project and the Celo Alliance for Prosperity, said in a statement: “Celo and Libra each have unique focuses and approaches, but they share a goal that Anchorage strongly believes in: banking the unbanked.”

According to an updated whitepaper by the Libra Association, the Libra project has diverged from its original plan, including adding single-currency stablecoins in addition to the Libra cryptocurrency.

What do you think about Celo? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Indian Crypto Boom: Exchanges See 10X Trading Volumes During Lockdown

Indian Crypto Boom: Exchanges See 10X Trading Volumes During Lockdown

India’s cryptocurrency sector is booming during the extended nationwide lockdown. Several Indian cryptocurrency exchange executives have shared with news.Bitcoin.com their record-breaking stats, bullish trends, and positive sentiment despite the coronavirus-driven lockdown.

Growing Interest in Cryptocurrency in India as Lockdown Extends

India recently extended its nationwide lockdown by another fortnight due to the coronavirus outbreak. While lockdowns have crippled many economies worldwide, the Indian crypto sector is seeing significant growth in interest, trading volumes as well as the number of new users, according to several crypto exchange executives.

“I’m seeing more people wanting to spend their time under lockdown in learning and understanding what crypto is, how it works, what are the use cases of various crypto tokens etc.,” Nischal Shetty, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Wazirx, shared with news.Bitcoin.com on Monday. “People in India are more upbeat about crypto,” especially with the recent cryptocurrency price increases, he described, reiterating the positive trend he observed in April. The Wazirx CEO elaborated:

The extended lockdown has led to people showing even greater interest in crypto in India. With millions of people not having the opportunity to work due to lockdown, crypto is turning out to be an opportunity for Indians to trade and earn from it.

Sathvik Vishwanath, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin, shares the positive sentiment. “Given the crypto industry has opened up two months ago, I would say the industry is happy in spite of lockdown,” he told news.Bitcoin.com on Monday. “This situation is a lot better than the one we faced due to regulatory confusion for two years.”

Indian Crypto Boom: Exchanges Report 10X Volumes During Extended Lockdown
More people in India are looking into cryptocurrency during the extended nationwide lockdown. “With millions of people not having the opportunity to work due to lockdown, crypto is turning out to be an opportunity for Indians to trade and earn from it,” Wazirx’s CEO said.

Zebpay chief marketing officer Vikram Rangala sees a similar trend at his exchange. “The extended lockdown has not hurt Zebpay’s business,” he told news.Bitcoin.com. “More likely, being at home gives people time to download our ebooks, learn about crypto, and decide to join Zebpay.” He continued: “We decided to start working remotely even before the lockdown and were already working on work-from-home flexibility, so we were able to adapt quickly … We’ve also been hiring new people at the same rate we would have without the lockdown.”

Crypto Exchanges Hit Record-Breaking Volumes

All three crypto exchange executives are seeing record-breaking volumes on their trading platforms. “Our trading volume has been increasing rapidly week over week,” Wazirx’s CEO confirmed. “In fact, this week we recorded one of our highest daily trading volume of over $10M.” He additionally revealed, “Our user signups have also shot up tremendously. We also hit an ATH for our weekly active users number last week,” adding:

Our trading volume before the lockdown in India used to be around $1M. It has grown over 10X in just 60 days.

Indian Crypto Boom: Exchanges Report 10X Volumes During Extended Lockdown
During the extended lockdown, cryptocurrency exchanges in India are seeing huge increases in trading volumes as well as the number of new users.

Sharing the positive sentiment, Zebpay’s CMO said: “just last week we had another record volume (since our January relaunch) day. New registrations and KYCs are also doing well. We’ve added staff and automations to handle the KYC load and new deposits. Other Indian firms also seem to be active and doing well.” He opined: “One thing is clear from everything we’ve seen: India’s crypto winter only increased people’s interest in sound digital assets and new ways to take control of their wealth. That’s not going away.”

There are also other factors that could have resulted in increased interest in cryptocurrency as well as trading volumes in India. Unocoin’s CEO pointed out that “both the pandemic and the regulatory clarity happened at the same time in India.” It was only in March that the Supreme Court of India quashed the banking restriction that the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), imposed on the crypto industry in its April 2018 circular. During the court hearing, it was also reiterated that cryptocurrency is legal in India. Following the supreme court ruling, crypto exchanges began bringing back INR support. Vishwanath confirmed that on his exchange:

The present volumes are definitely 10X than before these two events.

He concluded that the only question now would be “would we have done better with just regulatory clarity but not the pandemic and I think it might have been marginally better. Only time will tell.”

What do you think about cryptocurrency in India during the lockdown? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Bitcoin ATM Locations Surge to Over 7700 Worldwide Amid Global Crisis

Bitcoin ATM Locations Surge to Over 7700 Worldwide Amid Global Crisis

The number of bitcoin ATM locations has been growing rapidly amid nationwide lockdowns and the coronavirus crisis. With hundreds of new machines added each month, there are now more than 7,700 bitcoin ATMs spread all over the world. A new bitcoin ATM operator also installed its first bitcoin machines in April.

Hundreds of Bitcoin ATM Locations Added in April

Many bitcoin automatic teller machines (ATMs) were installed across the globe in the month of April despite nationwide lockdowns, rising numbers of covid-19 cases, and global economic crisis. According to the bitcoin ATM tracking website Coinatmradar.com, there are now 7,729 cryptocurrency ATMs in 72 countries. Moreover, there are also 148,849 services allowing people to buy (and sell) cryptocurrencies, such as newspaper and mall kiosks.

The country with the most bitcoin ATMs is the U.S., which has 5,749 machines nationwide. Among American cities with the most bitcoin machines are Los Angeles (558), Chicago (292), Atlanta (283), Miami (263), Houston (250), Detroit (246), Dallas (195), Philadelphia (131), Boston (126), and Las Vegas (126).

The total number of cryptocurrency ATMs worldwide stands at 7,729, located in 72 countries, according to Coinatmradar. There are 42 crypto ATM producers and 560 operators.

After the U.S., Canada comes second with 771 bitcoin ATM locations, followed by the U.K. with 296 locations, Austria with 145 locations, Spain with 84 locations, Switzerland with 83 locations, and the Czech Republic with 69 locations. In Canada, the cities with the most bitcoin ATMs are Toronto (249), Montreal (110), and Vancouver (87). Germany, which started regulating bitcoin ATM businesses early this year, now has 34 machines, according to Coinatmradar. One machine is in Berlin, one in Munich, and three in Frankfurt. In March, German financial regulator BaFin shut down unauthorized bitcoin ATMs in the country.

At the beginning of April, there were 7,384 cryptocurrency ATMs, the tracking website details. During the month, 435 machines were added and 69 were closed down, leaving a net increase of 366 ATMs, or a 5% increase from the previous month. Most of the new bitcoin ATMs — 351 machines — were installed in the U.S., followed by Canada with 12 more machines. Austria, Australia, and Vietnam got two more ATMs each. Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia got one more machine each. Meanwhile, one machine was removed from Germany, Mexico, and Malta while the U.K. lost three machines. A number of countries in Asia also have bitcoin ATMs, according to the tracking website. For example, Hong Kong has 57 bitcoin ATM locations, Taiwan has 10 machines, Singapore has eight bitcoin ATMs, Vietnam has six, the Philippines has four, and Thailand has two.

Bitcoin ATM Locations Surge to Over 7700 Worldwide Amid Global Crisis
There were 7,384 bitcoin ATMs at the beginning of April; 435 machines were added during the month and 69 were closed down, leaving a net increase of 366 ATMs, or a 5% increase from the previous month.

The number of bitcoin ATMs has grown 21% since the beginning of the year. According to Coinatmradar, there were 6,377 machines at the beginning of January. The month saw an increase of 328 bitcoin ATMs. February started with 6,665 machines and 339 others were added during the month. March began with 7,010 machines and 376 were added during the month as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared a global recession. In addition, several indicators have shown that the U.S. entered into a recession in mid-March.

Popular Crypto ATM Producers and Operators

There are currently 560 bitcoin ATM operators and 42 producers. Out of all 7,729 bitcoin ATMs, Genesis Coin tops the producer chart with its machines installed in 2,570 locations, followed by General Bytes with 2,283 locations, Bitaccess with 692 locations, Lamassu with 482 locations, and Coinsource with 400 locations. With the rising popularity of bitcoin ATMs, more businesses also want to host them on their premises.

During April, most of the cryptocurrency ATMs installed were Genesis Coin machines (155 ATMs). The next most-installed machines were Bitaccess with 91 new ATMs, followed by General Bytes with 72 ATMs. Meanwhile, six Chainbytes machines were removed in April.

As for operators, Coin Cloud installed 89 bitcoin ATMs, Coinflip added 54 machines, Bitcoin Depot 39 machines, National Bitcoin ATM 27 machines, Bitcoin of America 26 machines, Rockitcoin 25 machines, and Bitstop 19 machines. Meanwhile, U.S.-based operator CMJ installed its first six machines during April.

Bitcoin ATM Locations Surge to Over 7700 Worldwide Amid Global Crisis
Are you looking for the nearest bitcoin ATM to you? Coinatmradar.com has a map with all bitcoin ATM locations in the world. You can easily use the map to find all the bitcoin ATMs around you.

If you are trying to find the bitcoin ATM nearest to you, the Coinatmradar website provides a map showing where all bitcoin ATMs are in the world. It also gives you the option to view only one-way (buy only) machines or two-way (buy and sell) as well as select to view only the machines supporting specific coins, such as BTC, BCH, ETH, DASH, LTC, ZEC, XMR, and DOGE. In addition, all bitcoin ATM locations are listed by city and country so you can look up all the bitcoin machines near you.

What do you think about the recent surge in bitcoin ATM locations worldwide? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post Bitcoin ATM Locations Surge to Over 7700 Worldwide Amid Global Crisis appeared first on Bitcoin News.