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UK Bank Barclays Blocks Payments to Binance? DETAILS

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Following the FCA’s announcement that Binance cannot conduct regulated activities in the country, spike the move.

From the report received today, U.K. bank Barclays said Monday it is blocking customers from using their debit and credit cards to make payments to crypto exchange Binance.

As of now, this is all we’ve got, as there are no further details for now. Stay glue for full details on all cryptocurrency news and update from UK Binance showdown.

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BREAKING: Gensler – A Ban on Crypto Is ‘Congress’ Decision – DETAILS

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In a Tuesday hearing, Gensler told the House Committee on Financial Services that the SEC has no plans to ban crypto.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler told Congress on Tuesday that the SEC has no plans to ban crypto.

When asked by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), a longtime crypto supporter and member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, if the SEC had any plans to follow China’s lead in banning cryptocurrency in favor of a prospective central bank digital currency (CBDC), Gensler said, “No, that would be up to Congress.”

Gensler’s assertion that the SEC does not plan to ban crypto mirrors similar remarks made by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last week, when the central bank head told the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed had “no plans to ban” the $2.2 trillion asset class.

Gensler mostly reiterated his previous thoughts on crypto regulation including the need for exchanges to “come in and register” with the SEC, the potential systemic risk posed by stablecoins and the need for them to be subject to increased regulation, and that “most” cryptocurrencies fall under the definition of a security.

However, Gensler also expanded on his understanding of the SEC’s authority to regulate the crypto industry.

When asked by Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) to provide “guidance” on the topic of crypto regulation, Gensler reiterated his previous position that crypto exchanges need to register with the SEC but added that decentralized exchanges (DEXs) would also be subject to regulations.

“Even in decentralized platforms – so-called DeFi platforms – there is a centralized protocol. And though they don’t take custody in the same way [as centralized exchanges], I think those are the places that we can get the maximum amount of public policy.”

Gensler also expanded on his stance on stablecoins, which he has previously called the “poker chips” at the crypto “casino.” Gensler doubled down on his poker chip analogy during his response to several questions, adding that he viewed stablecoins as a systemic risk to the economy.

“The $125 billion of stablecoins we have right now are like poker chips at a casino,” Genser said. “I do think that if this continues to grow – and it’s grown about tenfold in the last year – it can present those systemic wide risks.”

The statement comes a day after we first reported that USDC stablecoin issuer Circle was served with an “investigative subpoena” from the SEC’s Enforcement Division in July.

The price of bitcoin, already up on the day, appeared to jump further on Gensler’s comments, rising to as high as $51,678.20. In recent trading, the price of the leading cryptocurrency was at $51,329.82, up 4.59% in the last 24 hours.

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WHAT IS DEFi?

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Defi is a short form of  “decentralized finance,” a term that carries  Ethereum and blockchain applications g pivoted toward disrupting financial intermediaries.

DeFi is short for “decentralized finance,” an umbrella term for a variety of financial applications in cryptocurrency or blockchain geared toward disrupting financial intermediaries.

DeFi draws inspiration from blockchain, the technology behind the digital currency bitcoin, which allows several entities to hold a copy of a history of transactions, meaning it isn’t controlled by a single, central source. That’s important because centralized systems and human gatekeepers can limit the speed and sophistication of transactions while offering users less direct control over their money. DeFi is distinct because it expands the use of blockchain from simple value transfer to more complex financial use cases.

Bitcoin and many other digital-native assets stand out from legacy digital payment methods, such as those run by Visa and PayPal, in that they remove all middlemen from transactions. When you pay with a credit card for coffee at a cafe, a financial institution sits between you and the business, with control over the transaction, retaining the authority to stop or pause it and record it in its private ledger. With bitcoin, those institutions are cut out of the picture.

Direct purchases aren’t the only type of transaction or contract overseen by big companies; financial applications such as loans, insurance, crowdfunding, derivatives, betting, and more are also in their control. Cutting out middlemen from all kinds of transactions is one of the primary advantages of DeFi.

Before it was commonly known as decentralized finance, the idea of DeFi was often called “open finance.”

Ethereum applications

Most applications that call themselves “DeFi” are built on top of Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency platform, which sets itself apart from the Bitcoin platform in that it’s easier to use to build other types of decentralized applications beyond simple transactions. These more complex financial use cases were even highlighted by Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin back in 2013 in the original Ethereum white paper.

That’s because Ethereum’s platform for smart contracts – which automatically execute transactions if certain conditions are met – offers much more flexibility. Ethereum programming languages, such as Solidity, are specifically designed for creating and deploying such smart contracts.

For example, say a user wants his or her money to be sent to a friend next Tuesday, but only if the temperature climbs above 90 degrees Fahrenheit according to weather.com. Such rules can be written in a smart contract.

With smart contracts at the core, dozens of DeFi applications are operating on Ethereum, some of which are explored below. Ethereum 2.0, a coming upgrade to Ethereum’s underlying network, could give these apps a boost by chipping away at Ethereum’s scalability issues.

The most popular types of DeFi applications include:

  • Decentralized exchanges (DEXs): Online exchanges help users exchange currencies for other currencies, whether U.S. dollars for bitcoin or ether for DAI. DEXs are a hot type of exchange, which connects users directly so they can trade cryptocurrencies with one another without trusting an intermediary with their money.
  • Stable coins: A cryptocurrency that’s tied to an asset outside cryptocurrency (the dollar or euro, for example) to stabilize the price.
  • Lending platforms: These platforms use smart contracts to replace intermediaries such as banks that manage lending in the middle.
  • “Wrapped” bitcoins (WBTC): A way of sending bitcoin to the Ethereum network so the bitcoin can be used directly in Ethereum’s DeFi system. WBTCs allow users to earn interest on the bitcoin they lend out via the decentralized lending platforms described above.
  • Prediction markets: Markets for betting on the outcome of future events, such as elections. The goal of DeFi versions of prediction markets is to offer the same functionality but without intermediaries.

In addition to these apps, new DeFi concepts have sprung up around them:

  • Yield farming: For knowledgeable traders who are willing to take on risks, there’s yield farming, where users scan through various DeFi tokens in search of opportunities for larger returns.
  • Liquidity mining: When DeFi applications entice users to their platform by giving them free tokens. This has been the buzziest form of yield farming yet.
  • Composability: DeFi apps are open source, meaning the code behind them is public for anyone to view. As such, these apps can be used to “compose” new apps with the code as building blocks.
  • Money legos: Putting the concept “composability” another way, DeFi apps are like Legos, the toy blocks children click together to construct buildings, vehicles, and so on. DeFi apps can be similarly snapped together like “money legos” to build new financial products.

    Lending platforms

    Lending markets are one popular form of DeFi, which connects borrowers to lenders of cryptocurrencies. One popular platform, Compound, allows users to borrow cryptocurrencies or offer their own loans. Users can make money off of interest for lending out their money. Compound sets the interest rates algorithmically, so if there’s a higher demand to borrow a cryptocurrency, the interest rates will be pushed higher.

    DeFi lending is collateral-based, meaning in order to take out a loan, a user needs to put up collateral – often ether, the token that powers Ethereum. That means users don’t give out their identity or associated credit score to take out a loan, which is how normal, non-DeFi loans operate.

    Stablecoins

    Another form of DeFi is a stable coin. Cryptocurrencies often experience sharper price fluctuations than fiat, which isn’t a good quality for people who want to know how much their money will be worth a week from now. Stablecoins peg cryptocurrencies to non-crypto currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, in order to keep the price under control. As the name implies, stablecoins aim to bring price “stability.”

    Prediction markets

    One of the oldest DeFi applications living on Ethereum is a so-called “prediction market,” where users bet on the outcome of some event, such as “Will Donald Trump win the 2020 presidential election?”

    The goal of the participants is, obviously, to make money, though prediction markets can sometimes better predict outcomes than conventional methods, like polling. Centralized prediction markets with good track records in this regard include Intrade and Predict It. DeFi has the potential to boost interest in prediction markets since they are traditionally frowned upon by governments and often shut down when run in a centralized manner.

    DeFi FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

    How do I make money with DeFi?

    The value locked up in Ethereum DeFi projects has been exploding, with many users reportedly making a lot of money.

    Using Ethereum-based lending apps, as mentioned above, users can generate “passive income” by loaning out their money and generating interest from the loans. Yield farming, described above, has the potential for even larger returns, but with larger risks. It allows for users to leverage the lending aspect of DeFi to put their crypto assets to work generating the best possible returns. However, these systems tend to be complex and often lack transparency.

    Is investing in DeFi safe?

    No, it’s risky. Many believe DeFi is the future of finance and that investing in the disruptive technology early could lead to massive gains.

    But it’s difficult for newcomers to separate the good projects from the bad. And, there have been plenty of bad.

    As DeFi has increased inactivity and popularity through 2020, many DeFi applications, such as meme coin YAM, have crashed and burned, sending the market capitalization from $60 million to $0 in 35 minutes. Other DeFi projects, including Hotdog and Pizza, faced the same fate, and many investors lost a lot of money.

    In addition, DeFi bugs are unfortunately still very common. Smart contracts are powerful, but they can’t be changed once the rules are baked into the protocol, which often makes bugs permanent and thus increasing risk.

    When will DeFi go mainstream?

    While more and more people are being drawn to these DeFi applications, it’s hard to say where they’ll go. Much of that depends on who finds them useful and why. Many believe various DeFi projects have the potential to become the next Robinhood, drawing in hordes of new users by making financial applications more inclusive and open to those who don’t traditionally have access to such platforms.

    This financial technology is new, experimental and isn’t without problems, especially with regard to security or scalability.

    Developers hope to eventually rectify these problems. Ethereum 2.0 could tackle scalability concerns through a concept known as sharding, a way of splitting the underlying database into smaller pieces that are more manageable for individual users to run.

    How will Ethereum 2.0 impact DeFi?

    Ethereum 2.0 isn’t a panacea for all of DeFi’s issues, but it’s a start. Other protocols such as Raiden and TrueBit are also in the works to further tackle Ethereum’s scalability issues.

    If and when these solutions fall into place, Ethereum’s DeFi experiments will have an even better chance of becoming real products, potentially even going mainstream.

    Bitcoin as DeFi

    While Ethereum is the top dog in the DeFi world, many proponents of Bitcoin share the goal of cutting the middleman out of more complex financial transactions, and they’ve developed ways to do so using the Bitcoin protocol.

    Companies such as DG Labs and Suredbits, for instance, are working on a Bitcoin DeFi technology called discreet log contracts (DLC). DLC offers a way to execute more complex financial contracts, such as derivatives, with the help of Bitcoin. One use case of DLC is to pay out bitcoin to someone only if certain future conditions are met, say if the Chicago White Sox team wins its next baseball game, the money will be dispensed to the winner.

    Disclaimer

    This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. 

     

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Non-Fungible Tokens – – What You Need to Know As a Trader!

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Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) seem to have exploded out of the ether this year. From art and music to tacos and toilet paper, these digital assets are selling like 17th-century exotic Dutch tulips—some for millions of dollars.

But are NFTs worth the money—or the hype? Some experts say they’re a bubble poised to pop, like the dot-com craze or Beanie Babies. Others believe NFTs are here to stay, and that they will change investing forever.

What Is NFT?

An NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items, and videos. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency, and they are generally encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptos.

Although they’ve been around since 2014, NFTs are gaining notoriety now because they are becoming an increasingly popular way to buy and sell digital artwork. A staggering $174 million has been spent on NFTs since November 2017.

NFTs are also generally one of a kind, or at least one of a very limited run, and have unique identifying codes. “Essentially, NFTs create digital scarcity,” says Arry Yu, chair of the Washington Technology Industry Association Cascadia Blockchain Council and managing director of Yellow Umbrella Ventures.

This stands in stark contrast to most digital creations, which are almost always infinite in supply. Hypothetically, cutting off the supply should raise the value of a given asset, assuming it’s in demand.

But many NFTs, at least in these early days, have been digital creations that already exist in some form elsewhere, like iconic video clips from NBA games or securitized versions of digital art that’s already floating around on Instagram.

For instance, famous digital artist Mike Winklemann, better known as “Beeple” crafted a composite of 5,000 daily drawings to create perhaps the most famous NFT of the moment, “EVERYDAY: The First 5000 Days,” which sold at Christie’s for a record-breaking $69.3 million.

Anyone can view the individual images—or even the entire collage of images online for free. So why are people willing to spend millions on something they could easily screenshot or download?

Because an NFT allows the buyer to own the original item. Not only that, it contains built-in authentication, which serves as proof of ownership. Collectors value those “digital bragging rights” almost more than the item itself.

How Is an NFT Different from Cryptocurrency?

NFT stands for non-fungible token. It’s generally built using the same kind of programming as cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Physical money and cryptocurrencies are “fungible,” meaning they can be traded or exchanged for one another. They’re also equal in value—one dollar is always worth another dollar; one Bitcoin is always equal to another Bitcoin. Crypto’s fungibility makes it a trusted means of conducting transactions on the blockchain.

NFTs are different. Each has a digital signature that makes it impossible for NFTs to be exchanged for or equal to one another (hence, non-fungible). One NBA Top Shot clip, for example, is not equal to EVERYDAYS simply because they’re both NFTs. (One NBA Top Shot clip isn’t even necessarily equal to another NBA Top Shot clip, for that matter.)

How Does an NFT Work?

NFTs exist on a blockchain, which is a distributed public ledger that records transactions. You’re probably most familiar with blockchain as the underlying process that makes cryptocurrencies possible.

Specifically, NFTs are typically held on the Ethereum blockchain, although other blockchains support them as well.

An NFT is created, or “minted” from digital objects that represent both tangible and intangible items, including:

•  Art

•  GIFs

•  Videos and sports highlights

•  Collectibles

•  Virtual avatars and video game skins

•  Designer sneakers

•  Music

Even tweets count. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his first ever tweet as an NFT for more than $2.9 million.

Essentially, NFTs are like physical collector’s items, only digital. So instead of getting an actual oil painting to hang on the wall, the buyer gets a digital file instead.

They also get exclusive ownership rights. That’s right: NFTs can have only one owner at a time. NFTs’ unique data makes it easy to verify their ownership and transfer tokens between owners. The owner or creator can also store specific information inside them. For instance, artists can sign their artwork by including their signature in an NFT’s metadata.

What Are NFTs Used For?

Blockchain technology and NFTs afford artists and content creators a unique opportunity to monetize their wares. For example, artists no longer have to rely on galleries or auction houses to sell their art. Instead, the artist can sell it directly to the consumer as an NFT, which also lets them keep more of the profits. In addition, artists can program in royalties so they’ll receive a percentage of sales whenever their art is sold to a new owner. This is an attractive feature as artists generally do not receive future proceeds after their art is first sold.

Art isn’t the only way to make money with NFTs. Brands like Charmin and Taco Bell have auctioned off themed NFT art to raise funds for charity. Charmin dubbed its offering “NFTP” (non-fungible toilet paper), and Taco Bell’s NFT art sold out in minutes, with the highest bids coming in at 1.5 wrapped ether (WETH)—equal to $3,723.83 at time of writing.

Nyan Cat, a 2011-era GIF of a cat with a pop-tart body, sold for nearly $600,000 in February. And NBA Top Shot generated more than $500 million in sales as of late March. A single LeBron James highlight NFT fetched more than $200,000.

Even celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Lindsay Lohan are jumping on the NFT bandwagon, releasing unique memories, artwork, and moments as securitized NFTs.

How to Buy NFTs

If you’re keen to start your own NFT collection, you’ll need to acquire some key items:

First, you’ll need to get a digital wallet that allows you to store NFTs and cryptocurrencies. You’ll likely need to purchase some cryptocurrency, like Ether, depending on what currencies your NFT provider accepts. You can buy crypto using a credit card on platforms like Coinbase, Kraken, eToro, and even PayPal and Robinhood now. You’ll then be able to move it from the exchange to your wallet of choice.

You’ll want to keep fees in mind as you research options. Most exchanges charge at least a percentage of your transaction when you buy crypto.

Popular NFT Marketplaces

Once you’ve got your wallet set up and funded, there’s no shortage of NFT sites to shop. Currently, the largest NFT marketplaces are:

•  OpenSea.io: This peer-to-peer platform bills itself as a purveyor of “rare digital items and collectibles.” To get started, all you need to do is create an account to browse NFT collections. You can also sort pieces by sales volume to discover new artists.

•  Rarible: Similar to OpenSea, Rarible is a democratic, open marketplace that allows artists and creators to issue and sell NFTs. RARI tokens issued on the platform enable holders to weigh in on features like fees and community rules.

•  Foundation: Here, artists must receive “upvotes” or an invitation from fellow creators to post their art. The community’s exclusivity and cost of entry—artists must also purchase “gas” to mint NFTs—means it may boast higher-caliber artwork. For instance, Nyan Cat creator Chris Torres sold the NFT on the Foundation platform. It may also mean higher prices — not necessarily a bad thing for artists and collectors seeking to capitalize, assuming the demand for NFTs remains at current levels, or even increases over time.

Although these platforms and others are hosts to thousands of NFT creators and collectors, be sure you do your research carefully before buying. Some artists have fallen victim to impersonators who have listed and sold their work without their permission.

In addition, the verification processes for creators and NFT listings aren’t consistent across platforms — some are more stringent than others. OpenSea and Rarible, for example, do not require owner verification for NFT listings. Buyer protections appear to be sparse at best, so when shopping for NFTs, it may be best to keep the old adage “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) in mind.

Should You Buy NFTs?

Just because you can buy NFTs, does that mean you should? It depends, Yu says.

“NFTs are risky because their future is uncertain, and we don’t yet have a lot of history to judge their performance,” she notes. “Since NFTs are so new, it may be worth investing small amounts to try it out for now.”

In other words, investing in NFTs is a largely personal decision. If you have money to spare, it may be worth considering, especially if a piece holds meaning for you.

But keep in mind, an NFT’s value is based entirely on what someone else is willing to pay for it. Therefore, demand will drive the price rather than fundamental, technical, or economic indicators, which typically influence stock prices and at least generally form the basis for investor demand.

All this means an NFT may resale for less than you paid for it. Or you may not be able to resell it at all if no one wants it.

NFTs are also subject to capital gains taxes—just like when you sell stocks at a profit. Since they’re considered collectibles, however, they may not receive the preferential long-term capital gains rates stocks do and may even be taxed at a higher collectibles tax rate, though the IRS has not yet ruled what NFTs are considered for tax purposes. Bear in mind, the cryptocurrencies used to purchase the NFT may also be taxed if they’ve increased in value since you bought them, meaning you may want to check in with a tax professional when considering adding NFTs to your portfolio.

That said, approach NFTs just like you would any investment: Do your research, understand the risks—including that you might lose all of your investing dollars—and if you decide to take the plunge, proceed with a healthy dose of caution.

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