‘We are about to see massive disruptions’: IMF’s Lagarde says it’s time to get serious about digital currency
- “I think that we are about to see massive disruptions,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told CNBC about developments in financial technologies
- Lagarde didn’t rule out that the IMF could at some point develop its own cryptocurrency
It’s time for the world’s central banks and regulators to get serious about digital currencies, according to the head of the International Monetary Fund.
Global financial institutions are taking risks by not watching and understanding emerging financial tech products that are already starting to shake up the financial services and global payments system, according to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
“I think that we are about to see massive disruptions,” Lagarde told CNBC in a Facebook Live interview on the sidelines of the IMF Annual Meetings in Washington D.C.
Asked whether she agreed with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’scomments that bitcoin is a “fraud,” Lagarde said it’s important to look at the broader implications of technologies like digital currencies.
“I think we should just be aware of not categorizing anything that has to do with digital currencies in those speculation, ponzi-like schemes,” she said. “It’s a lot more than that as well.”
Lagarde didn’t rule out that the IMF could at some point develop its own cryptocurrency. She pointed to the IMF’s Special Drawing Right (SDR), a currency the IMF created to serve as an international reserve asset, that could incorporate technology similar to cryptocurrencies.
“What we will be looking into is how this currency, the special drawing right, can actually use the technology to be more efficient and less costly,” she said.
Lagarde moderated a panel discussion on Thursday focused on fintech and the role of central banks, featuring central bank officials and executives from fintech companies. Lagarde told CNBC she expects the IMF will play a role in regulating the fintech industry going forward.
“My hope is that we can participate in that process because I see that as a very cross-border process,” she said.
Fintech, Lagarde said, is already causing disruptions in the financial services industry as new technologies lower the cost of financial transactions. She pointed to distributed ledger technology like blockchain that can help make the banking system more inclusive.
“I think of women in some of the developing countries that have to carry cash around who are at risk of violence and all the rest of it,” she said. “If they can use their cell phone and operate in a much more discreet and efficient way, it would be terrific.”
Written by CNBC
Bitcoin shoots above $5,800 to record peak
Bitcoin jumped to a fresh record high on Friday after breezing past the $5,000 mark on Thursday as the cryptocurrency rebounded after tumbling last month on increased scrutiny from regulators.
Bitcoin rose as much as 7.4 per cent to a high of $5,846 in the Asia morning, according to Reuters data, before easing to $5,700. The cryptocurrency was in touching distance of $5,000 at the beginning of September before slipping below $3,000 on regulatory scrutiny from China.
China’s central bank in September declared initial coin offerings illegal and called a halt to fundraising involving virtual coins in early September. Bitcoin slipped lower in mid-September when one of China’s largest exchanges announced plans to halt trading at the end of the month, touching an intraday low of $2,972.01 on September 15.
But things might be looking up for Bitcoin, despite big names such as JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon describing the currency as “a fraud“, as institutional investors are said to be taking an interest.
Written by the FT
New cryptocurrency finds unlikely fan in Harry Redknapp
Warnings about bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are coming from all directions. The City watchdog has said the bitcoin industry is unregulated and investors could be wiped out. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan, has called them a fraud and said the entire bitcoin system will blow up. Even Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has said cryptocurrencies are risky and used by criminals.
But the former West Ham United, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City manager Harry Redknapp tweeted on Thursday to say he was “proper excited” about Electroneum, a new crypocurrency being launched in the UK. “I’m in. Get involved,” he urged his 213,000 followers in his first tweet since August.
Redknapp, 70, joined Twitter in 2015 and usually uses it to comment on football matters, promote his book and publicise his work with the online gaming company Betsafe.
In his defence at his trial for tax evasion in 2012, when he was acquitted, Redknapp said he was a terrible businessman and “a bit of a gambler” whose lack of investment nous had nearly “wiped out” his son Jamie. When it came to technology, he said he could not work a computer, did not know what an email was and had never sent a text message.
Richard Ells, the founder of Electroneum, which is attempting to raise up to $40m (£30m), said the one-time favourite for the England football manager’s job was not working for the company.
But Ells said Redknapp’s tweet had prompted four Premier League footballers to get in touch. Redknapp could not be reached for comment.
Written by the Guardian
Global Demand for Bitcoin Shifts Wildly in Response to Regulation
Bitcoin trading against the Chinese yuan used to account for most of the volume. That changed early this year when regulators started to clamp down on digital currency exchanges. Japan’s yen took over as the biggest trading pair as regulators there took the opposite approach, adopting digital-friendly rules.
In the case of Ethereum, the Korean won has become prevalent as rules that limit access to more traditional assets are driving Korean investors to mine and trade the second-biggest cryptocurrency. As for trading in a wider group of cryptocurrencies, bitcoin takes the place of fiat currencies as the biggest trading pair.
Source: CryptoCompare & Cryptocurrency Market Capitalizations accessed on Oct 12th 2017 – Written by Bloomberg.
Editorial: Ars Technica Just Doesn’t Understand Bitcoin, Says Forks Have Split Network in Half
Expecting mainstream media coverage of Bitcoin’s surge past $5,000, today I browsed over to one of my favorite news websites: Ars Technica. I was sorely disappointed at what I found, and at the fact that the preeminent tech news site simply doesn’t “get” Bitcoin.
Why and wherefore
The piece by Ars Technica immediately begins by questioning the reason behind Bitcoin’s high price, first speculating that it’s due to the ICO boom, then suggesting that “one factor may simply be that the Blockchain bubble hasn’t run its course.” The author goes on to suggest that Bitcoin’s price is even more surprising in light of its recent—and upcoming—forks. Finally, he concludes that maybe people are hoping that holding Bitcoin pre-fork will result in financial gains post-fork.
It seems that it never occurred to Timothy Lee, the author of the article, that Bitcoin might just be a world-changing technology that’s merely in the foothills of adoption. As Jihan Wu, co-founder of Bitcoin mining firm Bitmain, said in a recent blog:
“Bitcoin has the potential to become the best and fairest form of money to ever exist. It essentially rolls gold, cash, and our credit card system into one. It takes the strengths of each and leaves the weaknesses behind. It has the limited supply quality of gold, but can be used to purchase everyday items. It has the speed of a credit card, but respects and protects your privacy. Transactions are settled instantly like cash, but are recorded on a public ledger.”
Maybe, just maybe, Bitcoin’s price is rising because its potential is finally being realized. Crazy thought…
Forks here, there, everywhere
Lee makes some serious factual errors in his article, asserting that the “contentious” Bitcoin Cash fork “split the Bitcoin network in two in August.” A few paragraphs down, he gets even more specific, stating that “the August fork split the Bitcoin network in half.” But it didn’t.
The network wasn’t anywhere close to being split in half, by any possible metric. Did half of Bitcoin’s miners move to Bitcoin Cash? Did Bitcoin lose half its value? Did half of Bitcoin’s nodes go offline and come back up as Bitcoin Cash nodes? Did Bitcoin lose half of its exchanges, wallet providers and other businesses to Bitcoin Cash? Did Bitcoin Cash steal half of Bitcoin’s users, half its potential, half its media coverage?
Bitcoin Cash began with around five percent of Bitcoin’s hash power, approaching 40 percent a couple of times during very brief windows when Bitcoin’s miners exploited Bitcoin Cash’s broken “emergency difficulty adjustment” algorithm. Today Bitcoin Cash trades at 0.06 BTC per BCH, having reached a high (for only a few hours) of 0.25 BTC per BCH.
In absolutely no sense was the Bitcoin network “split in half.”
Ars Technica’s article makes it sound as if serious, dangerous, forks are happening all the time in Bitcoin-land. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, neither Bitcoin Cash nor Bitcoin Gold had or have any chance of “taking over” or “splitting” the Bitcoin network. They may cause some confusion in the marketplace due to their improper appropriation of the Bitcoin name, but they aren’t a threat to the network itself.
The upcoming hard fork in November, should it occur, is a much different animal. That fork is contentious and risky, but following F2Pool’s recent decision to stop signalling for the SegWit2xfork, it seems that even that risk is dying down.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to take the position that Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold and any other such forks are actually good for Bitcoin’s long-term growth. Why? Because these minor forks provide a safety valve for discontents.
Safety valve theory
The US’ Homestead Act of 1862 was born out of the “safety valve theory.” The idea behind the bill was that, by giving away land for free in the sparsely populated West, immigrants and unemployed in the East would be able to leave the overcrowded towns, move West, and relieve the pressure on cities that were already bursting at the seams.
Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold do the same thing for Bitcoin. Supporters of big blocks who decried the adoption of SegWit now have a currency to call their own—Bitcoin Cash. They can focus on how best to design their new currency in an effort to one day try and compete with Bitcoin. The same goes for those who complain of miners having too much power, they can join the Bitcoin Gold project and go on about their way.
Removing discontents from Bitcoin actually strengthens the currency in the long run.
Written by CoinTelegraph
China’s Cryptocurrencies Have Gone Underground
A recent report by the Wall Street Journal explores the aftermath to the Chinese government’s recent move to ban initial coin offerings and crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges. The two announcements may have been the biggest for the entire industry in the month of September, as they signaled not only a severe regulatory countermeasure adapted by a nation but also a strong reaction from digital currency markets, which plummeted in response to the news.
However, just because the state has banned ICOs and cracked down on digital currency exchanges within its borders, it does not necessarily mean that cryptocurrency trading and investing within China has gone or will go away entirely.
Clandestine Sales Pitches Flourish
The WSJ report suggests that “as China widens crackdowns on exchanges and attempts to limit private trading venues for digital currencies, clandestine sales pitches seeking as much as $100,000 per investor are taking place away out of regulators’ sight.”
If the report is accurate, perhaps a good deal of the trading activity involving digital currencies, which had formerly been conducted on public online platforms, is now moving over to lower-profile, in-person offices or more secretive online services. Nonetheless, there still remains a market of interested investors looking to make moves in the cryptocurrency space. There are also digital currency promoters and sellers aiming to capitalize on that fact.
The report indicates that a Hong Kong cryptocurrency conference from September included discussions about how to continue trading in digital currencies within China despite the country’s increased regulations. A Shenzen-based bitcoin trading company called Bitkan has weighed in on the subject, with CEO Leon Liu saying “the government doesn’t have any way of policing offline sales” of those products.
Investors Approach With Caution
Before the crackdown, seminars focused on cryptocurrency investing might have drawn hundreds of people at a time. Now, they are scaled down, with investors apparently behaving more cautiously and in secret.
A woman selling cryptocurrencies in such a way and referred to only as Ms. Zhang suggested that “China didn’t invent ICOs. That was the United Nations. ICOs have a lot of scams. Not like us. We have lots of real assets.”
Zhang pitched a virtual currency product to a group of potential investors in an attempt to gain offline sales of the product, with investors able to purchase between $3,000 and $100,000 of the virtual currency in question.
All of this suggests that while countries like China may make official changes to the ways in which cryptocurrencies can be traded, the strength of the global trend is such that even legal and regulatory boundaries may not be enough to dissuade some of the most passionate and eager investors.