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Euroskeptic governments for several years have bloodied the European Union’s nose by flouting its authority. Brussels has recently scored some points, though officials increasingly concede that only a change in public attitudes in the bloc’s east can really prompt governments to shift course.
WSJ.com: What’s News Europe
Office leasing in Los Angeles County stayed strong in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is expected to perform well in the months ahead despite concerns that the market may soften because of a possible economic slowdown.
Signing some of the biggest leases were expanding entertainment companies such…
China’s trade surplus with the U.S. hit a fresh record last year, as robust American demand for Chinese goods undercut the Trump administration’s tariff offensive aimed at narrowing the countries’ lopsided trade gap.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia
Over the last year, cryptocurrency prices have dropped significantly and mainstream attention has been waning in recent months. However, according to recent data, the digital currency and blockchain conference circuit did not see a steady decline during the last six months of 2018.
Digital Currency and Blockchain Focused Conferences Are Still Trending
Cryptocurrency and blockchain related conferences did not see a decline in popularity last year. The number of crypto-infused events held was a stark contrast to the many other sectors within the digital asset economy, according to recent data collected by the analysis site Tradeblock. In 2018, cryptocurrency conferences really started heating up and event organizers pulled in millions from steady ticket sales and initial coin offering (ICO) exhibition booths. For instance, last year at Consensus Week (May 11-17) in New York the conference scored a whopping $ 10.5 million with event tickets being sold for $ 1,500-2,000 for all 7,000 attendees.
In fact, blockchain conference tickets sold for big money all year long and most of the events in 2018 sold out. The two-day Ethereum Ethereal Summit hosted by Consensys sold tickets for $ 1,300 a pop, even after Vitalik Buterin publicly spoke out against expensive conference tickets and rampant scams. The Women on the Block conference on Mother’s Day sold for $ 299-599, and Token Summit on May 17 sold out its early bird tickets at $ 649 and sold the rest of the seats in the house for $ 979. Last May, the company Eventbrite was selling NYC Blockchain Tech & Invest Summit tickets for $ 899-$ 1,299 per person.
In the face of massive layoffs, the declining cryptocurrency market values in 2018, and tickets selling for hundreds and even thousands of dollars — Blockchain conferences have remained unscathed from the faltering crypto economy. The well known provider of institutional trading tools and digital currency data Tradeblock explained this week that 2018 blockchain event organizers continued to host conferences all around the world.
“Despite the crypto bear market during 2018, the number of industry related conferences did not see a steady decline in the latter half of the year,” the analytical data website Tradeblock detailed on Thursday.
Pricey Crypto Events See Sold Out Exhibit Halls and Thousands of Attendees
Many of the 2018 blockchain events had upwards of hundreds to thousands of attendees, according to the vast list of conferences held last year. The Paris Fintech Forum saw 2,000 guests, Finovate Europe 1,400, Malta Blockchain Summit 9,500, Cryptocurrency World Expo Berlin 1,600, Blockchain Summit Vienna 2,000, Deconomy South Korea 2,000, Blockchain Conference Moscow 2,000, and the Blockchain Expo Global in London saw 6,000 participants. Blockchain conferences saw appearances from numerous cryptocurrency developers and blockchain luminaries as well, such as Tim Draper, Joseph Lubin, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, Vitalik Buterin, Charlie Lee, Balaji Srinivasan, and many other speakers.
2019 cryptocurrency and blockchain related conferences are still in full swing as there are many scheduled for the next few months already. There are conferences such as Blockchainge DC, Crypto Investor Show Manchester, TNABC Miami, and the Binance Blockchain Week event. Some of these conferences will host up to 4,500 people depending on the blockchain event. Even though online attention and crypto trends may be dwindling, the general public is still very inquisitive toward cryptocurrency and blockchain focused events.
What do you think about the cryptocurrency and blockchain conference circuit still thriving? Did you attend any blockchain conferences last year? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term on Thursday amid a longstanding economic crisis and pressure from some Latin American neighbors that won’t recognize his presidency after a disputed election.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – Regions – Americas
Sanctions imposed by governments as part of geopolitical struggles do not always filter through to under-regulated industries. Ambitious businesses covet every opportunity for expansion and diversification. That seems to be the reason why a growing number of crypto exchanges are turning their attention to Russia and its diaspora, despite the disapprobation this risks drawing from U.S. officials.
Major Platforms Increase Presence in the Russian World
Ever since the annexation of Crimea, Russia’s reemergence as an aspiring military, political and economic power on the world scene has been met with an ever-expanding list of western sanctions, the most wide-ranging containment measures against Moscow since the Cold War. They’ve undoubtedly taken their toll on the Russian economy and dissuaded many foreign investors. However, that’s not necessarily the case with the crypto industry, which is looking to expand operations after a prolonged downturn. Major digital asset exchanges have been focusing on Russia and the greater Russian world, despite the sanctions. According to a recent report, interest toward cryptocurrencies there has remained relatively stable throughout the past year.
Binance, the largest exchange by daily trading volume, has not restricted access to its platform for Russian users, despite cutting off traders from a number of other countries under U.S. sanctions such as Iran and Belarus. What’s more, the Chinese crypto company hired a special representative for Russia, Gleb Kostarev, who recently told Forklog that the Russian Federation and the CIS countries are some of the largest and most important markets for Binance, with great potential for future growth. The platform’s website is already available in Russian and Russian-language support is offered to VIP clients.
Establishing a Russian office is in Binance’s plans but the company prefers to first see comprehensive regulations for the crypto industry in the country. But Huobi, which is the fourth largest crypto exchange, is evidently not worried by the lack of regulations. It has already set up shop in Russia and launched a dedicated platform, Huobi Russia. It maintains 24-hour Russian-language online support and call center. Huobi is also partnering with Russia’s state-owned development bank VEB to provide legal help to crypto companies and with the country’s oldest business school, the Plekhanov University of Economics, on an educational program. Another exchange that is planning a Russian expansion is Kucoin. Its website already has a Russian version too.
Buying Cryptocurrencies With Rubles
Among the other crypto trading platforms with Russian language support are Exmo, arguably the largest digital assets exchange in Eastern Europe, and the Hong Kong-based Bitmex.
U.K.-headquartered Exmo, which is also represented in both Moscow and Kiev, offers pairs of major cryptocurrencies with the Russian ruble, and supports a number of payment methods that are popular in this part of the world, including card deposits and withdrawals, bank transfers in local fiat currency, Qiwi, Yandex Money, Webmoney and other payment processors.
Peer-to-peer crypto trading platforms are also taking care of Russian-speaking users. The popular exchange Localbitcoins has a Russian-language website devoted to traders from the Russian Federation, where most of the offers are priced in rubles and traders use popular Russian payment methods. Another P2P platform, Latvia-based Hodl Hodl, recently announced the launch of BTC and LTC trades in pairs with the Russian ruble. It also expanded its list of exchanges whose rates can be referenced in the offers, adding Binance and Exmo.
Do you expect the Russian crypto market to continue to grow despite foreign sections and the lack of regulations? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
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During the last 18 months, companies have claimed to be able to use blockchain technology to improve the supply of everything from vegetables to automobiles. An increasing body of evidence, however, suggests that the reality has failed to match the hype.
Billions Wasted on Blockchain Pilots
McKinsey & Company, the American management consulting firm, has released a report on the state of blockchain technology in business. It found that of the over 100 supposed use cases presented, the vast majority of pilots and proofs of concepts are still stuck in “pioneering mode” or are being shut down while many projects have failed to raise Series C funding rounds.
This is despite the fact that a lot of money has been pouring in to the field. The report notes that VC funding for blockchain startups reached $ 1 billion in 2017. IBM has spent over $ 200 million on a blockchain-powered data-sharing solution, and Google has reportedly been developing blockchains since 2016. The financial industry also spends around $ 1.7 billion every year on experimental tech, the report adds.
“A particular concern, given the amount of money and time spent, is that little of substance has been achieved,” the McKinsey team explains. “Of the many use cases, a large number are still at the idea stage, while others are in development but with no output. The bottom line is that despite billions of dollars of investment, and nearly as many headlines, evidence for a practical scalable use for blockchain is thin on the ground.”
Clunky Solution in Search of a Problem
The management consulting firm has found a number of reasons for the lack of progress. One is that in some cases, such as in the fiat payments industry, incumbents have disincentives for investing in real disruption that may lead to the cannibalization of their established revenue streams. Another problem is that few companies really wanted to create a public or shared utility that would benefit the entire industry including their competitors. Additionally, some companies announced they were pursuing blockchain pilots only for “reputational value” as the report calls it. This means that their purpose was simply to get some positive press rather than solve any valid problem for which blockchain is a practical solution.
“McKinsey’s work with financial services leaders over the past two years suggests those at the blockchain ‘coalface’ have begun to have doubts,” the report notes. “In fact, as other industries have geared up, the mood music at some levels in financial services has been increasingly of caution (even as senior executives have made confident pronouncements to the contrary). The fact was that billions of dollars had been sunk but hardly any use cases made technological, commercial, and strategic sense or could be delivered at scale.”
Is there any actual use case for private corporate blockchains? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Chile’s Antitrust Court Orders Banks to Keep Crypto Exchange Accounts OpenJanuary 5, 2019 | dailybusinessnews
Following the ruling by Chile’s supreme court that a bank can legally close accounts of a crypto exchange, the country’s Court of Defense of Free Competition reaffirmed that banks must reopen crypto exchanges’ accounts. The Chilean antitrust court continues to hear the case alleging that banks exploit their dominant position to keep crypto exchanges off the market.
Supreme Court Ruling Inconsequential
Chile’s Court of Defense of Free Competition (TDLC) rejected banks’ request on Wednesday to vacate its injunction that forced them to keep accounts of crypto exchanges open. Their request was “based on the ruling of the supreme court, issued in early December, which determined that the closure of an account of [crypto exchange] Orionx by Bancoestado was legal,” La Tercera publication wrote. Dario Financiero news outlet elaborated:
The TDLC noted in its resolution that the ruling of the country’s highest court ‘does not constitute a new precedent that will change the resolution.’
Martín Jofré, the CEO of crypto exchange Criptomkt, commented after the ruling: “For us, it is a success since we need bank accounts to operate in the market. In any case, we always rely on Chilean institutions, especially on the TDLC for its role as defender of free competition.”
Cryptocurrency exchanges filed a lawsuit with the TDLC against 10 major banks in Chile last year, accusing them of abusing their dominant position after they unilaterally decided to close their accounts. The TDLC then ordered banks to reopen accounts of the exchanges for the duration of the trial.
Bancoestado and Itau took the case to the country’s supreme court which subsequently ruled that the banks can legally close accounts of a crypto exchange. With the supreme court’s validation, the two banks asked the TDLC to cancel its order for them to reopen accounts of the exchanges.
“The resolution of the court [TDLC] seems completely legally sound to us,” lawyer Samuel Cañas, representing local crypto exchange Buda.com, was quoted by Dario Financiero as saying after the TDLC ruled on Wednesday.
“On the other hand, the issuance of judgments such as that of the supreme court” against crypto exchanges “should not have legal relevance on the decisions that the Tribunal [Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, TDLC]” makes on the subject of free competition, therefore it should be “inadmissible,” he added.
Mario Bravo, legal advisor to Cryptomkt, said that “the witnesses that we have cited, that is, the finance minister, the economy minister, the president of the central bank, the superintendents of banks, [and] the director of the UAF [Unidad De Analisis Financiero]” will give their testimonies to the TDLC in February. He concluded:
We believe that we will be able to prove that the banks illegitimately expel Buda and Cryptomkt from the market because they are companies that compete with them.
What do you think of the TDLC’s decision? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, TDLC, Cryptomkt, and Buda.com.
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Trade tensions and stock market volatility loom over the nation’s economy, but California’s job market powered forward in November with a robust expansion of payrolls and a record low unemployment rate.
Employers added 30,700 positions, according to the state Employment Development Department,…
Italy’s deal with the European Union to defuse its simmering budget dispute is adding to concerns about the country’s real economic problem: a lack of growth.
WSJ.com: What’s News Europe