UBS: European Banks Interested in Cryptocurrencies, but Not Bitcoin

European banks are interested in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, but they don’t believe the currency is likely to become accepted, according to the chairman of UBS.

The head of the Swiss global financial services said that bitcoin’s use to banks is limited. This was due to its volatility and lack of control over its supply.

Speaking in Zurich, Axel Weber, chairman of UBS, explained:

“For money to be a generally accepted means of payment, and a means to store value, it is essential that a central bank limits its supply. This isn’t the case with bitcoin. This might change one day, if a central bank would issue a digital currency.”

He added that the bank doesn’t use or trade in bitcoin. However, it’s interested in the blockchain.

“We have several pilot projects where we are analysing the potential benefits of this technology.”

‘Utility Settlement Coin’

UBS is reportedly discussing with other central banks about the possibility of creating a ‘utility settlement coin.’ Apparently, this would be a collateralised cryptocurrency that banks could use to pay one another or purchase securities.

Expected to launch next year, subject to support from central banks, other financial establishments such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Barclays have demonstrated an interest in the project.

Improving Efficiency and Cutting Costs

For many banks, though, cryptocurrencies are a convenient way to do settlements. That’s certainly the thinking of Francisco Fernandez, founder and chief executive of Avaloq, which provides cloud-based software and services to banks.

He said:

“It is transparent and can enhance settlement efficiency.”

Yet, he added that bitcoin is still very new and is used in a speculative way, adding:

“Of course regulation must be addressed to make sure a digital currency is not used for money laundering or other fraudulent activities.”

He claims that there is no value ‘in prohibiting it from trading.’

‘Run for Their Money’

Interestingly, these comments from UBS come at a time when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief said that it would be ‘unwise‘ for banks to dismiss cryptocurrencies.

Speaking at a Bank of England conference at the end of September, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, said:

“For now, virtual currencies such as bitcoin pose little or no challenge to the existing order of fiat currencies and central banks.”

She explained this was because they are ‘too volatile, too risky, too energy intensive, and because the underlying technologies are not yet scalable.’

However, she claimed that:

“Many of these are technological challenges that could be addressed over time.”

As a result, digital currencies may become a viable alternative for countries that have weak economies. Furthermore, they present an ideal avenue for acceptance rather than taking on the U.S dollar or the British pound.

Lagarde said:

“Instead, citizens may one day prefer virtual currencies, since they potentially offer the same cost and convenience as cash—no settlement risks, no clearing delays, no central registration, no intermediary to check accounts and identities.”

Adding:

“So in many ways, virtual currencies might just give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money. The best response by central bankers is to continue running effective monetary policy, while being open to fresh ideas and new demands, as economies evolve.”

Regulating Cryptocurrencies

The digital currency market has expanded exponentially. So much so, that at the time of publishing, on the 3rd October, it is now worth $143.6 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

Yet, the highest recorded value was when it within touching distance of $180 billion at the beginning of September. This was pushed alone by bitcoin’s rise to above $5,000 for the first time.

However, it’s because of the rapid rise that many are calling for the market to be regulated.

This can be seen by the fact that Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is to monitor bitcoin exchanges from this month.

In a report, this move is being undertaken to ensure the exchanges have the correct internal systems in place. If customer assets aren’t protected then on-site inspections will be carried out by the FSA.

An FSA executive said on the decision:

“We pursue both market fostering and regulation enforcement. We aim for sound market development.”

The volatility of market prices are of particular concern to a former commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Last month, Bart Chilton said that bitcoin’s price changes so much because of two things: it’s not like a stock and it’s not regulated.

He explained:

“Unlike oil, gold or corn, with digital currencies, there’s no “there” there—no physical stuff, or even made-up stuff backed by anyone or anything.”

Regarding regulation, he added:

“There’s no sure-footed surveillance to ensure trading is taking place in an orderly and appropriate fashion.”

However, according to him it’s not too late for solutions to be found. He claims that ‘visionary leadership is needed,’ to stop governments from banning or over-regulating the market.

Market Prices

At the time of publishing, the prices of cryptocurrencies are experiencing a drop in values.

This could be down to the fact that Switzerland’s regulator announced it was investigating some ICOs. According to the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), ICOs are violating the country’s laws against ‘terrorist financing.’

Bitcoin’s price is currently valued at $4,262, a 3.39 percent drop in 24 hours. It does, however, retain a 8.46 percent rise over seven days.

However, industry insiders claim that bitcoin is heading for $6,000 by the end of the year. In a recent report, experts claim that investors should prepare themselves for further volatility.

Thomas Glucksmann, head of APAC business development at Gatecoin, said:

“Throughout the year we’ve been predicting the bitcoin price will surpass $5,000 and creep closer to $6,000 by year’s end. That prediction is looking more in line with market sentiment these days.”

In November, the community is expected to see another fork to the network through the creation of SegWit2x. Just like when bitcoin cash was created there may be some volatility as traders weigh the impact.

Ethereum is trading at $290, a 2.67 percent drop over 24 hours. It continues to evade the $300 mark and is currently valued at $27.5 billion.

Of the top 10 cryptocurrencies, the biggest 24-hour can be seen from 9th-placed IOTA. As can be seen from the graph below it saw a drop of nearly 11 percent.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

IMF Chief: Cryptocurrencies Will Give Banks ‘a Run for Their Money’

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said cryptocurrencies may eventually give traditional banking systems ‘a run for their money.’

Speaking at a Bank of England conference at the end of September, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, said that ‘it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.’

She added, however, that:

“For now, virtual currencies such as bitcoin pose little or no challenge to the existing order of fiat currencies and central banks.”

The reason this is is because cryptocurrencies are ‘too volatile, too risky, too energy intensive, and because the underlying technologies are not yet scalable.’

Yet, she states:

“Many of these are technological challenges that could be addressed over time.”

She cites the fact that experts once believed that personal computers would not catch on and that tablets would simply be regarded as ‘expensive coffee trays.’

Adopting Cryptocurrencies

Notably, Lagarde outlines how countries with weak economies and unstable national currencies might embrace digital currencies instead of another country’s currency such as the U.S. dollar or the British pound.

Furthermore, it might provide them with better value for money by doing so.

She explains by saying:

“It may one day be easier and safer than obtaining paper bills, especially in remote regions. And because virtual currencies could actually become more stable.”

She went on to say that countries may increasingly turn their attention to new payment services through a decentralised economy. Rather than paying by credit card or e-money, which charge high fees for small transactions, particularly across borders, cryptocurrencies may flourish.

“Instead, citizens may one day prefer virtual currencies, since they potentially offer the same cost and convenience as cash—no settlement risks, no clearing delays, no central registration, no intermediary to check accounts and identities.”

Lagarde adds:

“So in many ways, virtual currencies might just give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money. The best response by central bankers is to continue running effective monetary policy, while being open to fresh ideas and new demands, as economies evolve.”

Cryptocurrencies Are ‘Unlikely’ to Weaken the Fed

At a time when Lagarde believes digital currencies will give banks a run for their money, the U.S. Federal Reserve chief doesn’t think they will weaken its influence on the U.S. economy.

Speaking at a fintech event, Patrick Harker, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said that bitcoin has yet to be tested by a serious issue that will see its price drop.

Additionally, when one does take place, people are more likely to turn to a government-backed currency, Harker claims.

He said:

“The paper that’s in your pocket, that we call money, only has value because we believe it has value, because we believe the government stands behind it. It’s all trust issues.”

He added:

“And so, when cryptocurrencies and other forms of currency emerge, I think the basis of that has to be how do they create that trust?”

Despite the growth of the digital currency market, Harker appears unconcerned. So much so, that he doesn’t believe that it will weaken the Fed’s influence on the U.S. economy.

China Crackdowns on Domestic Exchanges

Both of these comments come at a time when the crypto market is experiencing a renewed surge in price. Bitcoin’s price in particular has rebounded since September.

On the 2nd September, its price was trading over the $5,000 mark for the first time. However, a few days later Chinese authorities announced they would be banning initial coin offerings (ICOs). This was shortly followed by a crackdown on domestic digital currency exchanges. As a result, the value of bitcoin fell to below the $3,000 mark on the 15th September, to $2,987.

As traders weighed China’s decision many sold their coins during a massive selloff. It wasn’t just bitcoin that was impacted; cryptocurrencies across the board saw their values drop in some way as a result.

Consequently, several prominent Chinese digital currency exchanges revealed that they would be closing their services. ViaBTC was the first domestic exchange to do so. However, questions remain as to whether the exchange will relaunch its operations overseas in light of Beijing’s ban.

BTCC is the latest digital currency exchange to cease operations, with its suspension taking place on the 30th September. On the 27th September, the exchange had stopped accepting deposits. In a tweet, BTCC claimed to have had the longest known lifespan of a digital currency exchange, having operated for ‘2,305 days.’

BTCC have said that they will continue operating their services outside of China. Additionally, the exchange has confirmed that its mining pool will operate normally. Yunbi, OKCoin and Huobi are expected to cease the operations at the end of October.

‘More than Just a Fad’

Interestingly, while most bank CEOs are staying away from the crypto market, not all think the same.

At a time, when Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO, called bitcoin ‘a fraud,’ Morgan Stanley’s CEO has come out in favour of it.

Shortly after Dimon made his comments, James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley, is taking a measured view of the cryptocurrency.

At the end of September, he said that bitcoin is ‘certainly something more than just a fad.’

Speaking at an event held by the Wall Street Journal, he explained:

“The concept of anonymous currency is a very interesting concept – interesting for the privacy protections it gives people, interesting because what it says to the central banking system about controlling that.”

While Gorman said he hasn’t invested in the crypto market, these comments will no doubt be refreshing to hear.

He added:

“It’s obviously highly speculative but it’s not something that’s inherently bad. It’s a natural consequence of the whole blockchain technology.”

Bitcoin’s Value Increases

Despite September being a terrible month for the cryptocurrency market, it has rebounded in price.

At the time of publishing, on the 2nd October, bitcoin’s value has risen to $4,405, a 2.43 percent rise in 24 hours. In seven days it has increased by 13.83 percent. Its market value is currently worth $73.1 billion.

The combined crypto market is now worth $148.9 billion. This is still below its $180 billion record; however, the market is steadily recovering.

Featured image from Flickr via World Economic Forum.

Australia’s Corporate Regulator: Cryptocurrencies Will Replace Banknotes

Cryptocurrencies will replace bank accounts, changing how Australians pay for things, according to Australia’s corporate regulator.

Within the next 10 years, Greg Medcraft, the chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, predicts that consumers could live without a bank account as cryptocurrencies replace them.

He also thinks in the next five to 10 years central banks around the world will be issuing their own cryptocurrencies. One of the banks he predicts will do this is the Reserve Bank of Australia. Consequently, as more banks consider digital alternatives they will force other banks to think about how they do business.

In an interview he said:

“The smart banks get it and are reshaping what they do, but they know they are probably living on borrowed time. With central-bank issued digital currencies, you might not need a bank account anymore.”

If central banks start issuing their own digital currencies, consumers will more than likely transact with them rather than a commercial bank. Or they could turn to a technology company. This then puts the onus on existing banks to reconsider their business models if they wish to survive.

Medcraft added:

“There will come a time when if you want to transact, you won’t need a private bank account because you will essentially have a digital wallet with the central bank.”

Banks Must Embrace FinTech to Stay Relevant

In June, Anthony Jenkins, the former CEO of Barclays, said that banks face the threat of becoming obsolete if they don’t embrace the fintech sector.

Speaking at a Money 20/20 Europe fintech conference in Copenhagen, Jenkins said:

“We’re really at the end of the beginning of what we see as a revolution driven by technology with financial services, and fintech is really a too narrow categorisation of what’s going on here. As the technologies develop and season, they’re going to create a totally different way of doing banking and financial services.”

According to Jenkins, if banks embraced the blockchain they could save between $80-110 billion. He has previously said that the fintech sector will disrupt traditional finance. In 2015, he claimed that within 10 years those employed within the banking sector would drop by as much as 20 percent. However, this could go as high as 50 percent.

Similar to his concerns in 2015, Jenkins reiterated his feelings back in June. Consequently, if banks wish to remain relevant they need to change how they do business.

He added:

“Banks can avoid [becoming irrelevant], but they have to act now, and what they really need to do is think about innovation, but also transformation, doing something radically different.”

Banks Invest in the Blockchain

In a bid to stay relevant banks are already making some changes. According to Robert Half Financial Services, 52 percent have invested in the blockchain. Those planning on introducing it is 30 percent while 14 percent may consider using it in the future.

Favourably, the findings found that 85 percent of financial services executives think that the blockchain will have a positive impact on the sector by 2022.

While work is still in progress with the blockchain, if it wasn’t worth investing in banks would simply ignore it. That, however, isn’t the case.

Will FinTech Disrupt Traditional Finance?

Interestingly, while many such as Medcraft are saying fintech will disrupt finance, the World Economic Forum (WEF) thinks otherwise.

In a report, it states that while fintechs have changed the arena for competitiveness, they aren’t producing that much impact on financial services.

Looking at the three main areas of competition for financial services, it looked at cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence. WEF claim that Amazon, Facebook and Google have a thorough understanding of these compared to the finance sector. Thus, it is these companies that are becoming more disruptive to banks than fintechs.

Large-Scale Rollout of Two-Way Bitcoin ATMs in Australia

In light of Medcraft’s interview is the announcement that a partnership will take place between two fintech firms in Australia. Their aim is to update 2,900 existing ATMs, so that they can become two-way bitcoin ATMs.

According to a press release, a joint-venture will happen between ASX-listed blockchain startup DigitalX and ATM developer Stargroup. It adds that Stargroup has around 500 ATMs in Australia and manages another 2,400 ATMs through its subsidiary StarLink.

Presently, in Australia there are fewer than 20 ATMs that can undertake a bitcoin transaction. According to CoinRadarATM, there are 16 bitcoin ATMs in Australia. Not only that, but conversion fees vary between four to eight percent of the total value. Furthermore, most of these machines are only one-way, which means users can only purchase bitcoin and then add it to their wallet through the ATM.

With two-way bitcoin ATMs, users will be able to do the above. However, they will also have the option of converting their bitcoin to cash at the ATM. This provides greater flexibility and opens up more possibilities and wider adoption of the currency.

Leigh Travers, DigitalX’s CEO, said:

“With our growing success in blockchain consultancy services we view this opportunity as a suitable fit to offer ordinary Australians exposure to cryptocurrency. The success of this joint venture with Stargroup will add long-term revenue channels to our business and additional value to our shareholders.”

Todd Zani, Stargroup’s CEO and executive chairman, added:

“Stargroup is pleased to partner with DigitalX on this project and leverage its unique ownership of its ATM manufacturer to develop a two-way ATM where a bitcoin owner can not only buy bitcoin but more importantly can cash their bitcoin out. This development may also be able to be applied to other cryptocurrencies and be distributed internationally.”

The Rise of Cryptocurrencies

The use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin is rising. Japan is one country that is experiencing an influx in consumers using it to pay for everyday purchases. So much so, that by the end of 2017, it’s projected that there will be around 300,000 stores accepting it for payment.

As a result, it’s easy to see that the market will one day replace traditional bank accounts. Yet, this growing market still has a lot to do before it can claim that milestone.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Criminals Drop Bitcoin in Favour of Other Cryptocurrencies for Anonymity

Criminals are dropping bitcoin in favour of other cryptocurrencies in a bid to achieve greater anonymity for their criminal activities.

That’s according to the co-founder and president of Blockchain Intelligence Group. He estimates that the number of illegal transactions involving bitcoin fell from half the total volume to around 20 percent last year.

In an interview with CNBC, Shone Anstey, co-founder and president of Blockchain Intelligence Group, said:

“Now it’s significantly less than that.”

This is despite the fact that the overall transaction volume in bitcoin has grown. At the time of publishing, on the 31st August, bitcoin is trading at $4,614, a 0.77 percent rise in 24 hours. Over the past seven days its value has increased by 10.52 percent. Its market cap is now worth $76.3 billion.

After bitcoin recently soared above the $4,600 mark it would be natural to think that criminals would favour it more. However, it appears that that isn’t the case.

Criminals Look Elsewhere

Instead, it seems that criminals are now turning their attention to other cryptocurrencies. According to a U.S. Homeland Security official criminals are ‘looking more closely at other currencies like monero and ethereum.’

The official said:

“What the criminals are starting to see, and some of the trends we’re picking up as well, is that bitcoin also works equally just as much against you as it does for you.”

According to Chainalysis, the leading provider of anti-money laundering software for bitcoin, the rise of cybercrime in ethereum has risen with initial coin offering (ICO) financing. In a blog post, it states that total cybercrime revenue rose from $100 million in June to $225 million in August this year.

The highest grossing exploit was the DAO hack in 2016 after the DAO had sold over a billion tokens worth $150 million. Taking advantage of a vulnerability, criminals managed to steal around $74 million worth of DAO tokens from 11,000 victims.

Smart coding company Parity has also been subjected to a security breach. On the 19th July, it reported that more than 155,000 ether, worth $35 million, had been stolen.

Chainalysis states that as ICOs are time sensitive access to the sale necessitates investors to trade their ether quickly for alternative tokens. As a result, investors may find themselves tricked into providing their credentials to fake websites.

This was certainly the case for victims of the CoinDash ICO, which occurred prior to the Parity hack on the 17th July. A hacker was able to steal over $10 million after changing the contract address of the ICO project. Investors unaware of the situation continued to place their funds into the hacked CoinDash account. Consequently, around 43,500 ether was sent to the fake address.

Chainalysis adds:

“These credentials are then used to drain accounts. The average financial loss incurred per victim has increased by 20% from $6,700 in June 2016 to $8,000 since the DAO.”

Since the DAO, Chainalysis estimates that there has been around 30,000 victims of cybercrime on ethereum, each losing an average of $7,500.

Monero Gains in Value

Since the beginning of 2017 monero’s value has increased significantly. At the time of publishing its trading at $140, which is an 8.45 percent rise in 24 hours. Over seven days its value has increased by 60 percent. Its market cap is worth just over $2 billion.

As can be seen from the chart below, monero was trading at $16.40 at the beginning of 2017. Then its market cap value was worth nearly $224 million.

Its explosive growth could be down to the fact that it is designed to be more private than bitcoin. This means it’s completely anonymous and virtually untraceable. Consequently, this makes it the perfect altcoin for criminals to use.

The highest it has reached is $154, up over 1,000 percent this year, according to CoinMarketCap.

For those craving the need for secrecy on the dark web criminals are turning to monero. Darknet marketplace AlphaBay was one site that permitted people to use monero and ethereum as alternatives to bitcoin. However, AlphaBay was shut down by law enforcement on the 20th July. According to a report, authorities in the U.S., Canada and Thailand coordinated raids on the 5th July, which saw equipment being seized. Europol claim that since 2014, when AlphaBay was founded, an estimated $1 billion in transactions has been processed.

Authorities Get Savvy

AlphaBay is not the only darknet marketplace that authorities have shut down.

According to the U.S. Justice Department and Europol, another large dark web marketplace was also seized this year. Known as Hansa, it listed thousands of vendors selling illegal drugs, illicit products and counterfeit identification documents.

Following that was the announcement from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. On the 26th July, a grand jury had charged Russian national Alexander Vinnik and the bitcoin exchange he is alleged to have operated, BTC-e, with money laundering and other crimes related.

Derek Benner, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Acting Executive Associate Director, said:

“Homeland Security Investigations is strongly committed to tracking down criminals who seek to strike at the foundations of global financial security through complex money laundering schemes. The resulting indictment is a clear representation of why our close law enforcement partnerships are vital to our shared missions. HSI will continue to aggressively target those who deliberately seek to exploit financial systems for personal gain.”

The Homeland Security official added:

“We’re getting a lot better through law enforcement tracking those [criminals] and holding the exchanges more accountable. I think [bitcoin]’s a lot more legitimate than people give it credit for.”

Bitcoin Will Still be Used

Even though a July report from the EU suggested criminals were rarely using cryptocurrencies, they will still find it attractive. This is because they can convert it easily into cash without any middle men.

However, while bitcoin was perceived to be anonymous when it first emerged, it doesn’t offer the same level of anonymity that monero does. So much so, that Llew Claasen, the executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation recently said at a conference:

“Bitcoin is not completely anonymous and it is fairly easy for someone, say a revenue officer, to work backwards to find who was responsible for a transaction.”

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Morgan Stanley: We Don’t Expect Cryptocurrencies to be Fully Disruptive

Leading global financial services firm Morgan Stanley has given its view as to how disruptive cryptocurrencies are going to be to fiat monies.

According to the bank, the crypto-revolution is not going to replace traditional currencies.

In a report, Morgan Stanley said:

“We think that cryptocurrencies as a group are likely to see some adoption outside of the incumbent financial system, but we do not expect them to be fully disruptive.”

In a ‘Fintech Gauntlet chart,’ Morgan Stanley has illustrated that disruption is possible, but it will be slow to take place. However, the bank suggests that only through regulation will cryptocurrencies be capable of gaining trust among the people. This will also enable them to enter the financial system.

The bank adds that digital currencies such as bitcoin are acting more as assets than as a way of transacting with.

It stated:

“With high volatility, low acceptance, relatively slow transaction times, and negligible fraud/transaction validity advantages (at least for now), bitcoin (and all cryptocurrencies) are functioning more like assets than true currencies or transaction mechanisms.”

High Electricity Use

One thing that is often debated is the amount of electricity required to mine each bitcoin. When bitcoin first appeared all that was required to mine it was a simple home computer.

However, as the mathematical problems to unlock new bitcoins became more complex to solve, networks with greater power than home computers were set up to mine the coins. As a result, this requires the use of more power and electricity.

According to Morgan Stanley, in the early days of bitcoin the energy generated could power a small power plant. Fast-forward to 2017 and the power generated is more than enough to power one million homes.

Additionally, as reigning networks don’t require huge amounts of electricity to function, it will be interesting to see how cryptocurrencies continue to mature.

Bitcoin Acceptance is Shrinking

This isn’t the first time that Morgan Stanley has made a statement regarding the crypto market.

In July, the bank said that bitcoin acceptance among top merchants was on the decline. In a research note to analysts it said that ‘bitcoin acceptance is virtually zero and shrinking.’

According to the bank, in 2016 the cryptocurrency was accepted at five of the top 500 online merchants. Yet, in 2017 that number had dropped to three. Of course, while the numbers may hardly be drastic, it does give some insight into what merchants are thinking. This is that accepting the digital currency may not be worth it.

It’s believed that this drop is down to the fact that people are more likely to hold on to their coins when its value goes up, rather than spend them.

The analysts said:

“The disparity between virtually no merchant acceptance and bitcoin’s rapid appreciation is striking.”

Overstock’s Confusion

Online retailer Overstock is confused. Confused by the fact that so many online companies don’t accept bitcoin as a payment option.

In July, Jonathan Johnson, the president of Medici Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of Overstock, said that there had been a ‘modest’ uptick in the number of bitcoin transactions on the site. He also added that it was ‘crazy that so many retailers don’t accept bitcoin.’

One of the reasons may be down to the fact that retailers aren’t willing to pay for the costly transactions of bitcoin. Yet, Johnson believes this is irrelevant.

He stated:

“The cost of accepting bitcoin is very low. It’s actually cheaper for us to complete a bitcoin transaction than it is to complete a credit card.”

When Overstock first began accepting bitcoin in 2014, the company kept 90 percent of bitcoin and converted 10 percent back into cash. Now the company keeps 50 percent in bitcoin.

Such is Overstock’s commitment to the advancements of digital currency acceptance that the firm now accepts over 40 cryptocurrencies. Earlier in August, the company announced that it would allow customers to use major digital currencies such as ethereum, litecoin, Dash, Monero and bitcoin cash to buy online from Overstock’s nearly four million products. By integrating with ShapeShift, the world’s leading instant digital asset exchange, Overstock will be able to convert the cryptocurrencies into bitcoin.

Patrick M. Byrne, CEO and founder of Overstock, said:

“Overstock is pro-freedom, including the freedom of individuals to communicate information about value and scarcity without relying on a medium created through the fiat of unaccountable government mandarins. For that reason, we have been an early proponent and adopter of cryptocurrencies.”

Increasing Bitcoin’s Acceptance

Even though there are a handful of online merchants who accept bitcoin for payments such as Starbucks, Subway, Dell, Expedia and Microsoft, many would like that number to rise.

So much so that cryptocurrency fans launched a petition on Change.org urging Amazon to accept the digital currency. At press time, on the 25th August, there were 5,380 supporters of it with a goal of reaching 7,500.

Whereas CoinGeek, a bitcoin and blockchain news site, sent $100 in bitcoin to the financial directors at 20 of the top online brands. These included Alibaba, Amazon, Tesco, Staples, Uber, MacDonalds, Netflix, Airbnb, American Airlines, LVMH, AT&T, CVS Health, Tesla, Apple, FedEx, John Lewis PLC, Spotify, BMW and Red Bull.

Of those companies Airbnb was the first one to take up the offer in July. However, since then two other companies have followed suit: AT&T and American Airlines. Of course, this doesn’t mean the companies will automatically start accepting bitcoin. In fact the financial directors may simply just be taking the free coins on offer. Hopefully, though, in the not-so-distant-future more organisations will jump on board.

As Johnson said:

“I don’t know why a CEO wouldn’t want to make it easier for folks to spend money.”

Still a Long Way to Go

While the crypto market may be making an impact it still has a far distance to travel if it wants to disrupt finance. And yet, steps are clearly being made. The saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ is very apt here and can certainly be applied to cryptocurrencies.

The finance world is witnessing a change in how people conduct their day-to-day finances and given time the digital currency market could replace incumbent networks.

Featured image from Shutterstock.