Ripple, which uses cryptocurrency for cross-border payments, is now valued at $10 billion

  • Ripple says it’s raised a $200 million investment round that values the blockchain firm at $10 billion.
  • The company uses XRP to facilitate cross-border transactions for its network of financial institutions.

Blockchain start-up Ripple says it’s raised a $200 million investment round, lifting its valuation to a huge $10 billion.

The fundraising was led by New York investment company Tetragon, Ripple said Friday, while Japan’s SBI Holdings and Virginia-based venture capital firm Route 66 Ventures also invested.

Founded in 2012, Ripple rose to fame in late 2017 as the value of XRP, a cryptocurrency used by the firm, skyrocketed in value alongside a multitude of other virtual coins.

The company uses XRP to facilitate cross-border transactions for its network of financial institutions, while it also employs an interbank messaging system — think of it as a blockchain-based alternative to Swift — that’s used by banks to send money around the world.

“We are in a strong financial position to execute against our vision,” said Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse in a statement. “As others in the blockchain space have slowed their growth or even shut down, we have accelerated our momentum and industry leadership throughout 2019.”

While XRP rose in excess of $3 back in January 2018, the world’s third-largest digital currency has since pulled back significantly and currently sits at around 19 cents. The cryptocurrency was up over 3% Friday on the back of Ripple’s funding news.

Ripple sources a significant portion of its income from selling its holdings in XRP. According to industry outlet The Block, Ripple has sold $260 million worth of the cryptocurrency over the last year. The other big chunk of its revenue comes from deals with banks and financial institutions that use its blockchain technology for money transfers.

Ripple says it now has over 300 financial services customers globally. The firm has signed partnership deals with giants in the industry ranging from Santander to American Express.

Digital currencies hit the headlines this year after a brutal sell-off among such assets in 2018, with big companies like Facebook and J.P. Morgan making moves in the space. Facebook in particular has caught the attention of both investors and regulators, after it released proposals for its ambitious cryptocurrency project Libra.


California Man Makes $2.8 Million Trading Stocks From Home—How?

Kyle Dennis was $80,000 in debt and working with his mom at a California real estate office when he decided to invest $15,000—nearly every penny he had to his name—in the stock market. With his entry-level job paying him only $35,000/year, this choice was a huge risk that he couldn’t afford to fail.

What happened next would be hard to believe—if it wasn’t true.

In 2012, Kyle graduated college with $80,000 in debt and no job offers in sight. He asked his mom to get him a job at the real estate office, and after several months of saving a few hundred dollars a month, he realized he was never going to climb out of debt at such a slow rate. As a Biology major from UCLA, he knew his passion for science would never land him the comfortable life he always dreamed of either.

But he had one last idea. One that seemed crazy, but had a chance of working.

At the office, Kyle worked next to a man who traded stocks on the side, so he was learning a lot about the market.Kyle had never been much of an investor. In fact, before this, he had never owned a stock in his life. He didn’t know anything about trading at all. But a few days before making his timely move, he had discovered a ​webinar by Jason Bond​ that revealed 3 simple stock trading strategies anybody could use.

The strategies were really simple,” Kyle told us in an interview. “They didn’t involve any math or anything… All it took was access to basic information that was free on the internet.”

After watching the webinar and discovering the secrets contained in it, Kyle decided to go for it. He invested all the money he had slowly saved in the markets.

In a single day, he saw his trading account grow. A few days later, as the trading became more natural to him, the gains became even bigger.

We had to verify this to be certain, but after seeing Kyle’s tax returns and trading account profits, we are shocked to report that he did, in fact, make $838,000 in profits the year he joined Jason’s service and mastered the lessons he was taught — more than enough to pay off his college debt in full.

In just 2 short years, Kyle turned his original $15,000 investment into a whopping $2.8 million, and won a Porsche from Jason Bond, who promised to buy a Porsche for his first three students who crossed the million-dollar profit mark (sorry, he’s all out of Porsches).

Jason Bond’s stock trading webinar is completely free to watch. Most people who watch the webinar are not financial professionals or even experienced traders. In an interview, Bond told us that many of the people who watch it are teachers, postal workers and retirees.

Our recommendation: ​Sign up for Jason Bond’s next training event​ today.

We have received word that it could be taken down at any time because the level of interest is much higher than what Bond initially anticipated, due to the fact that it’s free of charge right now.


Latest Bitcoin price and analysis (BTC to USD)

Bitcoin (BTC) is currently trading at around $7,315 following a steep decline in price since Monday.

Over the past 24 hours, though, BTC increased by a whopping 6%.

As we enter 2020 Bitcoin seems to be still consolidating below its 20-day EMA. Even though we’re still on a clear bearish trend, price seems to have stabilised above $7,000.

Will Bitcoin maintain its positive price action and start its recovery towards $10,000 soon?

Let’s take a look at Bitcoin’s chart, courtesy of TradingView.

Since the massive bull market that took Bitcoin close to $14,000 earlier last year, BTC has been dropping in value following a downtrend that was only broken in late October 2019, when BTC surprisingly broke through a number of key resistance levels (around the 200-day, 50-day, and 20-day EMAs).

Bitcoin is still around 40% down from October’s high of $10,350.

If the $6,700 level was to be broken, the next stop for BTC, if the volume profile is to be believed, is just above $5,000.

Over the last quarter of the year, volume was also showing signs of weakness. During most of the period, volume stayed below $20 billion.

Until we see a clear reversal of key signals such as volume and volatility, I’m not expecting massive changes to BTC price-action.

If you’re looking to accumulate, this seems to be an amazing opportunity.

The current Bitcoin trend

Earlier this week, I underlined that within the next three to five weeks, we could see a major reversal after a period of serious accumulation by ‘hodlers’. I’m personally expecting a big move either up or down soon.

Volume has remained similar to last week’s and 30% above last month’s. This means we could be starting to enter the end of the short-term accumulation cycle and price action could either pump or dump.

For the time being, as mentioned above, there’s a chance it can go either way. As long as the price continues to record lower lows, that’s a bearish sign. I’m patiently waiting for a reversal signal.

Hence the upwards movement today could mean a shift in sentiment – even though it is too early to tell.

For the time being, it seems we already found the bottom during 2019 and could be making way for a mid-term move to the upside.

Will the trend reverse soon?

As veteran traders and investors usually say, smart money “buys when there’s blood on the streets”. I’ve been saying for the past month that I’m waiting for major drops to make new entries. Moments like these are highly welcomed and appreciated.

I strongly believe Bitcoin to be a long-term store of value, especially as traditional markets continue to show weaknesses.

How can the markets continue to push higher throughout the year after the ECB’s recent rate cuts, the continuous share buybacks from huge corporations, or the inverted bond yield shoving investors away towards riskier assets?

In addition, repo market activity – as in loans from central banks to commercial and investment banks – has spiked to new monthly records. That adds up to another signal of weakness for the general economy.

We shouldn’t forget the Bitcoin halving is coming in May 2020, which will put extra positive pressure on price, as the number of Bitcoin minted per block, halves.

The key aspect of the halving event is to understand if it is already priced-in by miners. I personally doubt it, since most people (and businesses) have a short-term mindset. In addition, miners’ behaviour shows there’s additional specialisation with better hardware being developed and released. Not only would that make the hash rate go up, it would also diminish profitability for the entire mining space. Hence, I see miners pushing for lower prices until the halving takes place. The harder it is to mine until the halving, the more miners will drop leaving more room for profits for the players who stay.

In conclusion, investors and traders should pay attention to the overall economic panorama, as it will most likely be a major catalyst for worldwide BTC adoption.

Safe trades!

Current live Bitcoin pricing information and interactive charts are available on our site 24 hours a day. The ticker bar at the bottom of every page on our site has the latest Bitcoin price. Pricing is also available in a range of different currency equivalents:

US Dollar – BTCtoUSD

British Pound Sterling – BTCtoGBP

Japanese Yen – BTCtoJPY

Euro – BTCtoEUR

Australian Dollar – BTCtoAUD

Russian Rouble – BTCtoRUB

About Bitcoin

In August 2008, the domain name was registered. On 31st October 2008, a paper was published called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. This was authored by Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. To date, no one knows who this person, or people, are.

The paper outlined a method of using a P2P network for electronic transactions without “relying on trust”. On 3rd January 2009, the Bitcoin network came into existence. Nakamoto mined block number “0” (or the “genesis block”), which had a reward of 50 Bitcoins.

More Bitcoin news and information

If you want to find out more information about Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in general, then use the search box at the top of this page. Here’s an article to get you started.

As with any investment, it pays to do some homework before you part with your money. The prices of cryptocurrencies are volatile and go up and down quickly. This page is not recommending a particular currency or whether you should invest or not.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice.

The post Latest Bitcoin price and analysis (BTC to USD) appeared first on Coin Rivet.


Say Goodbye to Banking as We Know It

China is poised to launch the first national digital currency. There will be no counting the disruption.  

So is China readying its own Bitcoin? Banish the thought.

It’s far bigger than that. Yes, just like any other cryptocurrency — or for that matter, cigarettes in prisoners-of-war camps — the upcoming digital yuan will be “tokenized” money. But the similarity ends there. The crypto yuan, which may be on offer as soon as 2020, will be fully backed by the central bank of the world’s second-largest economy, drawing its value from the Chinese state’s ability to impose taxes in perpetuity. Other national authorities are bound to embrace this powerful idea.     

Little is known about the digital yuan except that it’s been in the works for five years and Beijing is nearly ready to roll. The consensus is that the token will be a private blockchain, a peer-to-peer network for sharing information and validating transactions, with the People’s Bank of China in control of who gets to participate. To begin with, the currency will be supplied via the banking system and replace some part of physical cash. That won’t be hard, given the ubiquitous presence of Chinese QR code-based digital wallets such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.

It may start small, but the digital yuan can disrupt both traditional banking and the post-Bretton Woods system of floating exchange rates that the world has lived with since 1973. No wonder that for China, “blockchain and the yuan digital currency are a national strategic priority — almost at the level of the internet,” says Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. fintech analyst Gautam Chhugani.  

Ever since the advent of the 17th-century goldsmith-banker in London, the most crucial thing in banking has been the ledger, a repository of irrefutable records to establish trust in situations where it doesn’t exist. When Peter in Vancouver agrees to send money to Paul in Singapore, they’re forced to use a chain of interlinked intermediaries because there’s no ledger in the world with both of them on it. Blockchain’s distributed ledgers make trust irrelevant. Paul devises a secret code, and shares its encrypted version with Peter, who uses it to create a digital contract to pay Paul. A cumbersome and expensive network of correspondent banks becomes redundant, especially when it comes to the $124 trillion businesses move across borders annually. Imagine the productivity boost; picture the threat to lenders. 

China isn’t the only one experimenting. Fast, cheap cross-border payment settlement is one application of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Quorum, an Ethereum-based platform on which the Monetary Authority of Singapore is running Project Ubin, an exploration into central bank digital money. These are early days, but if blockchain technology shows promise in handling a large number of transactions simultaneously, then digital currencies could become substitutes not just for physical cash but also for bank reserves.

That’s when the game changes. Reserves at a central bank are maintained by deposit-taking lenders. A digital yuan — or Singapore dollar or Indian rupee — could bypass this system and allow any holder of the currency to have a deposit at the central bank, potentially making the state the monopoly supplier of money to retail customers. As Agustin Carstens, the general manager at the Bank for International Settlement, noted recently, “If the central bank becomes everybody’s deposit-taker, it may find itself becoming everybody’s lender too.”

But why would central banks want to demote their own banking systems? One answer, looking at Europe and Japan, is that negative interest rates are doing that anyway. Lenders are starved of profit because while the central bank charges them for keeping money on deposit, they can’t as easily pass on those negative interest rates to their own depositors. If the global economy gets mired in long-term stagnation, official digital currencies will at least be an efficient way of monetary easing without involving banks.

The other, more concrete, reason may be that technological progress is making the status quo untenable. It’s no coincidence that China hastened its national cryptocurrency after Facebook Inc. announced the Libra project, which was touted as an alternative dollar. Perhaps that was fanciful, and the Libra has hit a wall of regulatory concerns. But if they’re offered like Spotify gift cards at the local 7-Eleven, there will be demand for tokens that are acceptable across borders, stable in value against baskets of national currencies, and can be used in global trade and investing. Someone in Silicon Valley will eventually succeed, blowing away the fig leaf of monetary sovereignty in emerging markets in the process.

The changes won’t end with banking and monetary arrangements. Token transactions will be pseudonymous: If the central bank wants to see who’s spending where, it can. Anonymity disappears when cash does. While that will make life difficult for money launderers and terrorists, it could also become a tool to punish political activism. Meanwhile, currency as a foreign policy weapon loses some sting. Pariah states will covet a crypto they can access by circumventing banks that are terrified of flouting Western sanctions. As Harvard University economist Kenneth Rogoff notes, technology “is on the verge of disrupting America’s ability to leverage faith in its currency to pursue its broader national interests.”

A roller-coaster decade — not just for for banking and money but also for privacy and politics — may just be beginning. 


Bitcoin’s Price is Up More Than $1K Since Bakkt Futures News

Put simply, BTC futures trading on Bakkt will not rely upon unregulated spot markets for settlement prices and the party will receive delivery of bitcoins from the Bakkt Digital Asset Warehouse at the end of the contract period.

Many observers, including cryptocurrency analyst and trader Scott Melker, are of the opinion that Bakkt’s physically-delivered futures product will open the floodgates for the institutional money and is a long-term bullish development for bitcoin.

Asian markets mixed after latest trade developments, China sets key rate lower

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Asian markets were mixed Tuesday as China took the next, critical step in a long-awaited money management reform, and as the United States gave the Chinese tech company Huawei a slight reprieve in Washington’s ongoing trade war with Beijing.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) edged up 0.2%, following a 2.1% gain the day before.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) slightly retreated in early trading, down 0.2%. The indexrallied 2.2% on Monday,its biggest daily gain in two months.

On Tuesday morning the People’s Bank of China set its new Loan Prime Rate at 4.25% — slightly lower than its existing benchmark one-year lending rate, which hasn’t changed in years. The LPR is a replacement that is meant to better reflect changes in market rates, and make it cheaper and easier for companies to borrow. Analysts have described the measure as effectively a rate cut.

The LPR will be set on the 20th of each month and serve as a new guidance rate for Chinese banks to price their loans to clients.

“While this should nudge banks to reduce lending rates slightly, the impact on economic activity will be marginal,” wrote analysts from Capital Economics in a research note Tuesday, adding that unlike a benchmark cut, “it will only feed through to borrowing costs on new loans, not outstanding ones.

“The upshot, they added, is that China’s central bank “still has work to do.

“Asian markets also had a chance to consider news from Washington on Monday that the US government would add more than 45 new businesses associated with Huawei to an export blacklist.

At the same time, the government said it was renewing a temporary license that allows companies in the United States to sell products to Huawei in some cases. The renewal lasts for 90 days and went into effect on Monday.

“While it is not unexpected, the extension for the easing of Huawei sanctions had added to the relief for markets at the start of the week,” wrote Jingyi Pan, a market strategist for IG Group, in a research note. She pointed out that US stocks in particular edged higher.

But Ken Cheung Kin Tai, chief foreign exchange strategist for Asia at Mizuho Bank in Hong Kong, said the extension on the reprieve signaled a “procrastination” of the US-China trade talks, rather than offering a resolution.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) rose 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) was up about 0.5%. Japan has approved shipments of a high-tech material to South Korea for the second time since imposing export restrictions last month, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8%, extending a 1% rise on Monday. The Australian central bank released on Tuesday the minutes of its policy meeting for August. It showed the policymakers believe it’s “reasonable” for interest rates to stay low for an extended period to support economic growth.



Stocks making the biggest moves midday: Micron Technology, Wynn Resorts, Estee Lauder & more

Check out the companies making headlines midday Monday:

Micron TechnologyAdvanced Micro DevicesOn Semiconductor — The semiconductor stocks rose after the U.S. granted Huawei another 90 days to buy from American suppliers. “We’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. Micron and AMD gained 3.4% and 1%, respectively. Shares of On Semiconductor advanced 2.7%.

Chevron — Shares of the energy company rose 1.3% after an analyst at Barclays initiated them with an overweight rating. The analyst said Chevron is “well positioned” for a return of “significant” free cash flow to its shareholders.

Deckers Outdoor — Shares of Deckers gained 2.6% on Monday after the footwear company was upgraded to buy from hold by Pivotal Research Group. The analysts cited winter weather as a potential catalyst for the maker of Uggs footwear and said a recent slide in price made the stock more attractive. Shares are down roughly 20% in the past month.

Amgen — Shares of pharmaceutical giant Amgen slid as much as 1.4% on Monday after analysts at Mizuho downgraded the company to neutral from buy. The analysts said the downgrade was based “solely on valuation” and increased the price target to $212 per share from $208. The share price has risen more than 10 percent in the past month.

Aramark — The food service company’s stock soared 8.3% after a Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed that private equity firm Mantle Ridge had claimed a 20% stake.

Las Vegas SandsWynn Resorts — Major casino stocks Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts jumped on Monday after a report indicated growing gambling revenue in Macau. Analysts from Nomura Instinet estimated that gross gambling revenue in Macau rose roughly 7% week over week, with the protests and airport closures in Hong Kong not making a major impact. Shares of Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts were both up more than 4%.

Estee Lauder — Estee Lauder shares rallied more than 12% after the skincare-products maker reported better-than-expected results for the previous quarter. The company earned an adjusted 64 cents per share on revenue of $3.59 billion. Analysts polled by Refinitiv expected a profit of 53 cents a share on sales of $3.53 billion. Estee Lauder saw upside in its makeup and fragrance business. The company also issued strong earnings guidance for fiscal 2020.

PG&E — The embattled electric utility company from California fell 25.3% after a judge ruled that a jury can find them liable for as much as $18 billion in wildfire damages. In a separate ruling, a judge determined PG&E can retain control of its bankruptcy plan.

—CNBC’s Elizabeth Myong and Jesse Pound contributed to this report.


Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Plans ‘Supercharged’ Central Banks’ Interest In This Barbados Startup

In the summer of 2016, when bitcoin was beginning its ascendance to a $20,000 all-time-high, Bitt, a Barbados-based startup, did something that at the time seemed rather bizarre: It issued a cryptocurrency backed by the Barbadian dollar. Many wondered why anyone would want to corrupt the efficiency of issuing currency on a shared, distributed ledger by introducing value controlled by a central authority.

Bitt’s headquarters in Barbados. BITT

Then came Facebook, which earlier this year announced its plans to issue libra, a cryptocurrency backed by a basket of currencies issued by central banks and designed to have all the benefits of blockchain, with the price stability of the strongest fiat currencies. Could this be the way to get people to actually spend cryptocurrency instead of just hold it like an investment?

Since then, central banks around the world have approached Bitt to learn more about how they can reimagine what money can be. Bitt CEO Rawdon Adams gave Forbes the inside scoop on how his company’s efforts have already begun to change the island nation, and what others are starting to learn from the process.

Excerpted from Forbes CryptoAsset & Blockchain Advisor. Join us Wednesday, August 21, 2019, for a free webinar discussing what Facebook’s libra means to investors, and other investing opportunities.

Forbes: You recently worked with the Central Bank of Barbados. Tell me a little bit about what you’ve done?

Rawdon Adams: Bitt just got through a regulatory sandbox with the Central Bank in Barbados. That’s really important to us for a number of different reasons, but mainly the Central Bank has as its mandate—consumer protection on the one hand, and to make sure it doesn’t introduce systemic risk into the economy on the other hand.

It likes to see anybody who’s involved in financial payments come through its gates. It checks out operations, processes, who’s running the company—just about every single thing you can think of is carried out in its due diligence process.

We started that process with the Central Bank in December and came out of it in the beginning of July. This allows us now to continue conversations we’ve already begun with financial partners because they seek comfort around who they partner up with. That’s especially true for credit unions and banks, but even larger merchants want to make sure you’ve been given approval by the regulator, in this case the Central Bank of Barbados. We’re the first company to go through this process and we’ve received a clean bill of health.

Forbes: In early 2016 Bitt launched a Barbadian dollar on a blockchain. Explain a bit about what happened and what’s the status now?

Adams: I came on board at the end of 2017. In 2016, Bitt did digitize a version of the Barbados dollar. At that time, the Central Bank didn’t have a regulatory sandbox to take a good look at what was going on. But it liked the idea of the digital dollar and allowed it to happen with an endorsement from the minister of finance at that time.

A lot of this is about context. The informal economy in this part of the world typically is responsible for 80% by value of all transactions that are carried out. That is cash transactions and those transactions are really expensive in terms of time, cash handling, security, distribution, reconciling accounts—receipts at the end of the day to cash, and so on. So, there is a broad recognition in these types of economies that every transaction you can push towards digital versus cash is probably going to hit the bottom line of the economy as a whole.

Quite a few studies, notably some that have been carried out on behalf of Mastercard by a German university but also more recently by the Bank of England, demonstrate economies with large informal sectors can, by pushing towards digital, realize a permanent increase in their rate of GDP growth between 2%-7%. It depends on the economy in question.

Forbes: What does passing the Central Bank’s program allow you to do that you couldn’t before?

Adams: This stamp of approval allows us to go to banks and credit unions with ideas of partnership. One reason this is key is that in order to bring this new blockchain technology to [the] mainstream, it is important to build bridges to the existing financial infrastructure.

Forbes: Are people in Barbados or in other nations in the area spending Barbadian dollars using Bitt technology?

Adams: You have to remember that Barbados is a small jurisdiction, so when we say we have 10,000 uses on the wallet, it may not sound like a lot, but there are 80,000 households in Barbados. A penetration of 10,000 isn’t bad, and we’ve had a steady uptick in transactions. It started out typically with peer-to-peer transfers within the island. But as we signed on merchants, in particular, and built out a merchant network (there are more than 1,000 merchants in the island on our network), we’ve been able to push transactions through. Small restaurants have been big users of our technology.

What’s been surprising to us is some of the organic stuff we’ve seen happen. A great example is on the transportation system. We got a public and a private setup in Barbados. The private operators have seen that going digital saves them a great deal of security around the handling of cash.

There were cases—one guy we talked to said his drivers were showing up at his house at 2 a.m. with a bag full of cash. That didn’t make him happy. They started using our technology for B2B purposes rather than for consumer-facing payments. We’ve started to [partner] with him to cover consumers as well as the back end of B2B—supplying these guys with cash to buy gas because the national network of gas stations is on our system. So, it ties up pretty neatly.

Forbes: What’s the difference between spending a Barbadian dollar using Bitt technology and using the traditional model?

Adams: I think the number one thing to recognize is that unlike places like Sweden, where 5% of all transactions by value are cash, in this region that number is about 80%.

So, cash is not good for carrying out certain types of transactions. That’s one answer. Anything that is a remote payment. We don’t have a well-developed e-commerce culture in this region either, so going digital first of all provides people with convenience. When they have bills, individuals can pay them online. That convenience is very important.

But it also provides a catalyst for small- and medium-size enterprises to boost their e-commerce platforms in particular. We’ve cases where a supermarket will say to us, “I pay the bank a 1% charge on the float in my cashiers. And our supermarket has about 60 cashiers. I pay two guys to reconcile receipts against cash every day, seven days a week. It takes them three or four hours. There’s the security around distributing the cash and so on and so forth.”

Forbes: It sounds to me like you’re saying it’s cheaper to spend smaller amounts of money. Is that a simple way to explain it?

Adams: For consumers, it is. For medium-size and large businesses, there are very significant gains. And partly around their cost of cash handling, which can be between 5% and 15%, depending on exactly which sector they’re in, but also in areas you wouldn’t necessarily assume they’d see savings. For example, in Treasury management. This is a region with 15 or so different fragmented currencies.

Forbes: With the 5%-to-15% fees, how does that compare with what they’re paying with Bitt?

Adams: Those are not fees. Well, I guess they’re accumulation of fees. Any fees that are associated with carrying float in your business, we don’t charge for that. Our business model is really based on the merchant side. Those costs of cash are considered almost structural. So, our costs around security to them is zero versus whatever they’re paying. We will have a service subscription model.

If they were to go all digital, they’d see significant savings. Typically, what we think is going to happen is those costs of handling cash—let’s say it’s 10%—they’ll probably go to 30% digital in a relatively short period of time. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. As they see the savings coming in then they’re likely to encourage their customers to go more and more.

Forbes: Is there a quantifiable way to compare savings?

Adams: There’s a key differentiator here. We don’t have a cost of digital cash. So, if someone is paying a security to move his funds to his business and to his bank—there is no comparator on our side. That will be a direct 100% savings. Anything that’s associated directly with handling cash, that just goes away if you’re the business.

Now, on the other side, where there are direct comparisons are with taking payments via card, a debit or a credit card. Typically for a consumer to pay with a debit card in Barbados, he will pay the bank $1.50 (that’s $0.75 U.S.) per transaction. We don’t charge the consumer anything. So they will save automatically.

We charge our merchants either 20 cents per a transaction or 5 cents a transaction. The difference between those two is if they are allowing people to cash in and out of digital dollars on the premises. So, if someone comes in—kind of like buying telephone credit–and physically has a $20 bill, and wants to make a 20 digital dollar deal, if the merchant is willing to carry out that switch, we’ll charge them the lower rate.

Forbes: We’ve largely focused on P2P payments, but what does enterprise and banking demand look like?

Adams: The first place we got into with enterprise was small- and medium-size merchants, because very often for them to access commercial banking was really expensive. For example, just to have a point-of-sale terminal, a Verifone or whatever it is in your premises, typically there would be an install charge that could be $1,000 and a rental charge per month, which is significant. They’d also have to pay per-card transaction fees. That cut a lot of small- and medium-size merchants out of digital financial inclusion, until we came along with a cheaper alternative and built this network, which is dominated mainly by small- and medium-size merchants and is a thousand strong.

We also have significant negotiations going on with two banks. One is regional and it validates our view that it is necessary sometimes to work from the inside to change what you see going on in the financial system.

Forbes: Who you’re working with now?

Adams: Two companies were sort of breakthroughs to us. The first is Sol Petroleum, which is present in 23 countries. It was acquired by Parkland, a Canadian petroleum company, in January. It is one of two that dominate the network in Barbados and in this region. We got a pilot with Sol; we were able to demonstrate savings against existing payment methods (this is excluding the cost of cash) of more than 80% on what it was paying through its current bankers. Sol agreed to roll out nationally on the back of the pilot. That’s something we’re aiming to do later this year.

The second one that was very significant to us is a supermarket chain called AOne Supermarkets. Again, we carried out a pilot with them. This is where we got a lot of our hard data from on things like the fees they would pay a bank to have a float, what it was costing them to reconcile receipts, and so on.

Forbes: What’s been your interaction with central banks since the news came out about the Libra Association and Facebook’s plan to use a cryptocurrency backed by central bank-issued currencies?

Adams: Well, pre-Libra we’d had a lot of interaction with central banks on the back of the pilot contract we signed with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. But it is true Libra has come along and kind of supercharged things—it’s definitely a catalyst. I can’t speak for all central banks, but I think Facebook’s white paper certainly has gotten them thinking. You had a range of reactions from relatively relaxed from the Bank of England to President Trump’s negative tweets.

I think overall, it’s actually good for us. There are really quite stark differences between what Libra’s proposing and what we see as a central bank digital currency. On our side it is important to be regulated. You can with a central bank digital currency tell clients that it’s legal tender—meaning it has to be accepted and is regulated and backed by assets on a central bank balance sheet. This is really key.

ForbesDid you see an uptick or any sort of change in how many central banks reached out to you in the post-Libra world?

Adams: Yes, we’re seeing a higher volume of questions. We have tentacles out to a lot of central banks. But the Libra announcement has increased the amount of communication for sure. I’m not sure anyone really has a clear idea of how it’s going to look in reality. I think there are some questions around its intentions that worry regulators a lot. And that’s why we get some of the questions. I can’t imagine what it’s like in Facebook headquarters.

Our chief business development officer has been talking with some of the currency unions in West Africa and a bunch of central bankers in London. He’s definitely seen a significant increase in those questions. It has helped us because we essentially get to talk to central bankers and their teams more often since the announcement and can delineate some of the differences that we see between what we’re doing and what Libra is doing. Questions about regulation and the difference between low- and high-value transactions, and remittances typically come up.

ForbesAny last thoughts?

Adams: I’d like to mention that in the last few weeks we’ve had five different government departments reach out to us to discuss how they can integrate payments. This might be things like paying for your driver’s license or how they can use our technology to get around some of the pain points that they’ve got, especially around queues, waiting lines, settlement times, and so on.

Forbes: Thank you, Rawdon.


Bitcoin’s Price is Up More Than $1K Since Bakkt Futures News

  • Bitcoin has risen by $1,000 since Friday’s announcement by Bakkt exchange that it will be launching physically-settled bitcoin futures on Sept. 23. The price rise has neutralized the bearish setup on the intraday charts seen last week.
  • The gains could be extended further to $11,000, as the hourly chart is reporting a bullish continuation pattern.
  • The weekly chart continues to call a deeper pullback to $9,000 with key moving averages (MAs) producing a first bearish crossover since February.
  • A weekly close above $12,000 is needed for a complete bullish revival.

Bitcoin (BTC) has gained $1,000 since the Bakkt exchange announced it has the green light to offer bitcoin futures, but key resistance still lies ahead.

The top cryptocurrency picked up a bid around $9,700 in the U.S. trading hours on Friday and printed highs above $10,750 earlier today, according to Bitstamp data.

Notably, the move above $10,000 happened on Friday after CoinDesk reported that the Intercontinental Exchange’s young subsidiary Bakkt has received regulatory approval to launch its much-anticipated platform for daily and monthly BTC futures.

Bitcoin futures to be launched by Bakkt will be physically settled, as opposed to the cash-settled futures listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Put simply, BTC futures trading on Bakkt will not rely upon unregulated spot markets for settlement prices and the party will receive delivery of bitcoins from the Bakkt Digital Asset Warehouse at the end of the contract period.

Many observers, including cryptocurrency analyst and trader Scott Melker, are of the opinion that Bakkt’s physically-delivered futures product will open the floodgates for the institutional money and is a long-term bullish development for bitcoin.

Physically delivered futures require the actual purchase of bitcoins, which, according to Melker is a “huge” development. Also, there is general consensus that the price discovery in new physical delivery markets will contribute to building confidence in BTC prices.

That said, some observers are warning that an increased institutional volume my not necessarily translate into stronger buying pressure.

“Volume is volume, don’t express your bias toward it”, popular Cryptocurrency market analyst @CryptoNekoZ tweeted earlier today.

Meanwhile, financial analyst and tech journalist Joseph Young tweeted over the weekend that, “Bakkt launch was priced into the market”.

So far, the markets have reacted positively to Bakkt news if the $1,000 price rise is anything to go by.

The cryptocurrency is currently trading at $10,700 on Bitstamp and could rise further to $11,000. The gains, however, could be short-lived as the odds are stacked against the bulls, according to technical charts.

Hourly chart

BTC witnessed a high-volume ascending triangle breakout earlier today. The bullish continuation pattern indicates a resumption of the rally from the last week’s low of $9,467 and has created room for a rise to $11,000.

So far, however, the upside has been capped around $10,750.

Weekly chart

BTC fell 10.49 percent last week, strengthening the case for a deeper pullback put forward by the preceding week’s rejection above $12,000.

The 14-week relative strength index has created a bearish lower high. Further, the 5-week moving average (MA) has crossed below the 10-week MA for the first time since February.

Currently, the 5-week MA is seen at $10,610 and the 10-week MA is located at $10,691.  The bearish crossover indicates the path of least resistance is to the downside.

The moving average convergence divergence histogram continues to produce lower highs above the zero line, a sign of weakening bullish momentum.

All-in-all, the case for a fall back to $9,000 remains intact. The outlook would turn bullish only if prices print a weekly close (Sunday, UTC) above $12,000.

Bitcoin image via Shutterstock; charts by Trading View