As Bitcoin hits all-time price highs, regulation must now become a major priority for financial watchdogs, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.
The call-to-action from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the price of Bitcoin hit a new record high, surging past $61,000 on the deVere Crypto exchange on Sunday for the first time.
Mr Green says: “Whether crypto cynics like it or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly important part of the global financial system.
“Bitcoins in circulation are now worth $1 trillion, with prices having rallied 890% over the last year. Most major financial institutions, including investment giants and payment companies, are now backing the world’s largest cryptocurrency, and there’s ongoing soaring interest from retail investors.”
He continues: “The move towards digital currencies is going to increase - and at pace - over the next few years. This is why financial regulators must now make regulation of the crypto sector a major priority.
“With a growing dominance, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies must be held to the same standards as the rest of the financial system with a robust, workable international framework.
“This will help reduce any potential disruption to global financial stability, protect investors, tackle illicit activity and deliver an economic boost to countries that adopt and adhere to it.”
Previously, the deVere boss, who is a long time, high-profile cryptocurrency advocate, has said that one of the best ways to address the regulatory issues is via the exchanges.
“Nearly all foreign exchange transactions go through banks or currency houses and this is what needs to happen with cryptocurrencies. When flows run through regulated exchanges, it will be much easier to tackle potential wrongdoing, such as money laundering, and make sure tax is paid,” he has noted.
“For this to happen, banks will need to open accounts for exchanges, which is why they must be regulated.”
The deVere CEO concludes: “We’re at an important point for Bitcoin, which is now worth more than many countries’ GDP.
“Financial watchdogs need to bring this asset class into the regulatory tent sooner rather than later via the exchanges.”
Bitcoin was driven to new record highs Tuesday morning – trading above $48,000 – as investors continue to pile in on the news that Tesla bought $1.5bn worth of the cryptocurrency.
A filing with the U.S. financial regulator on Monday reveals that the electric car company run by the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, has made the massive purchase of the digital asset which has jumped more than 300% in a year.
The surge in the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin – which was also fuelled by an endorsement by Musk on Twitter over the weekend - comes as digital currencies become mainstream due to soaring interest from both retail and institutional investors, increasing levels of mass adoption, and as global interest rates remain at historic lows.
But how does a new crypto investor choose a platform on which to buy, sell, hold and exchange?
Nigel Green, an influential cryptocurrency expert and CEO of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations, says there are five fundamentals.
He says: “More and more people are wanting to invest into cryptocurrencies, knowing that they are the future of money.
“But many, even those who have extensive knowledge of the stock market, have concerns about selecting the right cryptocurrency exchange.
“The total capitalisation of the cryptocurrency market is now an estimated $1.2 trillion, but it is still lightly regulated. This means that it’s vital that investors know what to look for in an exchange.”
He continues: “There are five fundamentals for your checklist.
“First, security. The system of a private exchange for saving consumer documents as well as funds should be as decentralised as possible as if it’s all on a couple of web servers, that makes them easy hacking targets.
“Investors should also look for a system that utilises two-step verification throughout login, such as a password, and also quick-expiring codes received through the app.
“Avoid exchanges which offer cheap trade costs or services but are based in areas around the world where investor security is weak.
“In addition, investors ought to assess exchanges as well as the businesses behind them as they would certainly do with any other organisation that they would depend on to protect their money.”
“Second, costs. Some exchanges are proficient at addressing costs in advance, while others hide them. Go for the exchanges that are upfront and transparent.
“Third, simplicity and ease of use. Take into account that you’re not always going to trade from your desktop. In fact, finding an exchange that focuses on 'on-the-move' trading via a secure app is often a better option.
“Fourth, dependability. Does the exchange run efficiently when trading quantity is high, or when the currencies rate is see-sawing? Some exchanges are notorious for their system accidents and trading stops.
Fifth, client service. Make sure an exchange has a chat or fast communication service integrated.”
Mr Green concludes: “Whilst Elon Musk’s Tesla, and other institutional investors, including PayPal amongst others, will have teams of crypto experts behind them, retail investors can also get involved.
“Investing in cryptocurrencies remains highly speculative and it is not for everyone - but one of the keys to success would be selecting the right crypto exchange.”
The recent months have seen Bitcoin record tremendous growth, attaining new price highs in about three years. The surge in Bitcoin value has been reflected in the revenue amassed by miners.
Data acquired by Bankr indicates that between November 9 and December 8, 2020, Bitcoin miners have earned a total of $551.45 million. The figure represents an average of about $18.38 million in daily revenue.
The highest revenue was recorded on December 3 at $21.76 million. Elsewhere, miners recorded the least earnings on November 14 at $15.59 million. The miners earned money by successfully creating the next block of transactions, making both the built-in subsidy as the combined fees paid alongside the transactions included in the block.
Bitcoin price surge correlates with high mining revenues
The high mining fees correlate with a period when the price of Bitcoin has soared higher since 2017 when the asset hit the all-time high of $20,000. On December 1, Bitcoin hit its yearly high of about $19,700, the highest price mark since 2017. Consequently, the last 30 days’ earnings represent one of the highest revenue in nearly three years.
The Bitcoin price increase has been facilitated by several factors, including the increased interest from institutional investors. Notably, most institutions have upped their Bitcoin reserves in the last 30 days. Furthermore, leading companies like PayPal have announced support for Bitcoin, contributing to the price surge.
In the wake of the price surge, fees climbed as Bitcoin experienced its most severe congestion in about three years. Transactions awaiting confirmation filled up due to a drop in hash rate. The situation was caused by miners taking machines offline while looking for regions with affordable electricity. At some point, the mining revenue increased when several publicly traded mining companies have seen their shares rise.
It is worth mentioning that the Bitcoin mining revenue is encouraging, considering that the industry witnessed a decline in profitability over recent years. Small miners made losses as institutional miners built large arrays to mine. The continued growth of large-scale miners, mainly from China, has led to the wiping out of small-scale miners.
The milestone in mining revenue comes barely six months after Bitcoin halving took place. Fees as a percentage of total revenue are on the upward since May halving. The increase in fee revenue is essential to sustain the network’s security as the subsidy decreases every four years.
Miners focused on another Bitcoin all time
With the increase in price and revenue, miners are taking advantage to bring in more machines online after early November’s record drop. From the data, at the start of November, the mining revenue dropped. With such a challenging environment, an increase in resources is required to carry out more mining.
Analysts continue to project that bitcoin’s current rally is sustainable with the strong possibility of continued upward price movement. In this case, miners are looking at continued revenue growth through the end of 2020. Notably, the current mining revenue figures and hash-rate recovery mirrors well for the bull market’s continuation. Bitcoin proponents continue to predict another all-time high for the asset before the year ends.
Bitcoin continues to lead the cryptocurrency sector towards mainstream adoption on a global scale by directly competing with traditional players like banks. One indicator that highlights Bitcoin’s potential prospects is its impressive market capitalization.
Data gathered and analyzed by Buy Shares indicates that Bitcoin’s current market capitalization of $169.01 billion means that the asset would rank in the eighth spot if it was a bank.
The digital asset’s market cap is at least two times lower than JP Morgan Chase’s cap of $433.5 billion, making it the biggest bank in the world. Bitcoin would also rank lower than the Bank of America which as of July 2020 had a market cap of $306 billion. ICBC ranks third with a capitalization of 290.9 billion followed by China Construction Bank with a cap of $218.4 billion. From our data, Wells Fargo is the fifth-largest bank globally with a market cap of just $35.3 billion more than Bitcoin’s. Other banks ranked higher in the market cap above Bitcoin are Agricultural Bank of China and Citigroup at $178.8 billion and $171.5 billion respectively.
With about a decade in existence, Bitcoin’s current market cap has surpassed other major banks like HSBC that currently enjoys a cap of $157.5 billion. The Bank of China’s $146.6 billion also comes short of Bitcoin’s. China Merchants Banks has a cap of $137.7 billion to rank as the tenth-largest bank globally.
The Royal Bank of Canada ranks in the eleventh spot with a market cap of $116.6 billion followed by HDFC Bank Limited at $112.7 billion. Toronto Dominion Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Morgan Stanley close to the top 15 banks globally with a market capitalization of $103.3 billion, $101.6 billion, and 93.09 billion respectively.
Bitcoin’s ROI remains positive amid economic turmoil
Compared to the stocks of major banks, Bitcoin holds an impressive Return of Investment based on Year-to-Date overview. Our research shows that the maiden cryptocurrency has an ROI of 27.18% with China Construction Bank Corporation coming a distant second with an ROI of 2.52%. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has returns of -19.5%.
Elsewhere, JP Morgan Chase has an ROI of -29.58% followed by Bank of America’s -34.07%. The list of the overviewed banks, Wells Fargo has the worst returns at -53.62%.
In the traditional financial sector, market capitalization refers to the total value of issued shares of a publicly-traded company. For Bitcoin, the market cap refers to a metric that measures the relative size of a cryptocurrency. In this case, Bitcoin has an impressive development journey with a fast-rising market despite being much younger compared to the overviewed banks.
Despite remaining highly volatile like other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has attracted attention from governments considering that the asset has acted as a hedge against unstable currencies. Bitcoin proponents continue to push for the mainstream adoption, something that will potentially push the asset’s market cap to new levels.
Bitcoin shows resilience as traditional market crumbles
Analysis of the return of investment shows that Bitcoin might be on course to becoming an alternative source of wealth. In the first and second quarters of this year, the coronavirus pandemic wrecked the global economy leading to the crumbling of most stocks. Major stocks ROI has been in the red zone but Bitcoin appears not to have been impacted greatly. Largely, Bitcoin has remained resilient throughout this season despite occasional tumbling attributed to fear to spread from traditional markets.
Notably, even after sustaining some occasional drops, Bitcoin found a natural bottom and vigorously rebounded in the coming weeks with liquidity levels normalizing. On the other hand, traditional stocks like the highlighted leading banks are still planning for a recovery something that directly impacts their market cap and return of investment. It can be deduced that the Bitcoin market is highly resilient and self-correcting, even in the absence of external intervention.
Bitcoin recently turned ten years old. In that time, it has proved revolutionary because it ignores the need for modern money’s institutions to verify payments. Instead, Bitcoin relies on cryptographic techniques to prove identity and authenticity.
However, the price to pay for all of this innovation is a high carbon footprint, created by Bitcoin mining.
Fundamental to that mining process is a peer-to-peer network of computers, referred to as validators, who perform Proof of Work. In essence, this involves computers solving computationally-intensive cryptographic puzzles that prove blocks of transactions, which are recorded in a public asset ledger, known as a blockchain. This ledger is publicly viewable by all computers, which helps the system achieve consensus in an unreliable network of participants.
Validators are called miners because the computer, or node, that successfully validates one of those blocks is rewarded with “mined” Bitcoin. Thus mining is also the process by which Bitcoin adds new coins to the network.
But these processes consume a vast amount of power.
In my 2016 article, Socialism and the Blockchain, I estimated Bitcoin mining’s annual energy use at 3.38 TeraWatt hours (TWh), which I equated to the total 2014 annual consumption of Jamaica. Recent estimates show the currency’s annual consumption rising exponentially, currently reaching an incredible 55TWh. Indeed, a new paper in Nature Sustainability suggests that the energy costs of mining cryptocurrencies exceed the costs of mining physical metals. Furthermore, the paper estimates that Bitcoin emitted between 3m and 13m metric tonnes CO₂ in the first half of 2018. A team in Hawaii even suppose that, if Bitcoin’s adoption continues to rise, within a couple of decades, such emissions could help push global warming above 2°C.
However, both the study in Nature and the team in Hawaii make assumptions about the means of energy generation. In the light of the recent disturbing UN 1.5°C Report, humanity would be wise to act on the recommendation for an “unprecedented shift in energy systems”. The hope is that such a shift towards large-scale renewable energy does occur, thus invalidating the assumptions made in those papers.
Nevertheless, concerns over Bitcoin’s energy consumption remain, so Ethereum, another cryptocurrency, is investigating a more energy efficient consensus algorithm known as Proof of Stake. This method differs from Proof of Work because miners on this network use their economic stake to prove transactions and therefore, they are not performing energy intensive calculations.
That introduces some complications – not least, how to ensure that people in this network act honestly, as they would have nothing to lose by behaving dishonestly? Ethereum’s proposed solution is to introduce penalties through measures such as penalising miners for simultaneously producing blocks on two versions of the blockchain. After all, only one of those blockchains is valid.
Bitcoin’s Proof of Work overcomes such problems implicitly because it includes natural penalties since miners have to expend energy to prove transactions.
In economic game theory, a Nash Equilibrium is said to be reached when a system stabilises because no one gains by changing strategy from that which produces the stable state. Since Bitcoin rewards are given to miners only if their blocks help form the valid Bitcoin blockchain, the most profitable outcome, or the Nash Equilibrium, is for each miner to act in consensus with the majority.
As a result, Bitcoin’s Proof of Work algorithm has proven effective, despite the excessive energy consumption.
A price worth paying?
In essence, my work looks at whether blockchains are a rebuttal to the hierarchies of capitalism. If Bitcoin promotes a way of organising that does not rely on capitalist consumption, might that indirectly drive down society’s energy use and help lessen its environmental impact? After all, consider the recent alarming WWF report, which all but blamed capitalism for the dramatic decline in wildlife populations. We need alternatives.
Perhaps, then, Bitcoin’s revolutionary offer, as an alternative to capitalism, means its energy use is a price worth paying? That argument holds some weight if it drives down consumption in other areas of society because Bitcoin mining is not the primary driver behind climate change. However, even then, given the urgency of environmental degradation, if we continue to produce energy in a manner that creates so much warming CO₂, that argument may provide scant consolation.
Perhaps alternative consensus schemes, such as Ethereum’s Proof of Stake, provide part of the solution. However, Bitcoin or not, if humankind is to avoid climate catastrophe, we need to take urgent action and find solutions that produce clean, sustainable energy. If we do that, humanity will benefit, and as a by-product, so will Bitcoin.
Bitcoin, the world's first and most famous cryptocurrency, celebrated its tenth birthday on Wednesday.
Its emergence has spawned a multitude of other digital currencies, brought blockchain technology to global attention, and vexed regulators worried about its crime misuse and weakness to hacking.
The following are some major milestones in bitcoin's first decade:
Oct. 31, 2008 The still-unidentified Satoshi Nakamoto releases a nine-page academic paper that sets out how bitcoin would work. "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" also gives the first description of the blockchain decentralized ledger, the technology that underpins the digital currency.
Jan. 3, 2009 Nakamoto mines the first "block" of bitcoins on the blockchain. Days later, Nakamoto sends bitcoins in its first ever transaction.
Jan. 12, 2009
The first bitcoin transaction takes place between Nakamoto and developer Hal Finney. The transaction is recorded in block 170.
Oct. 12, 2009
Martti Malmi, a software developer from Finland, sends 5,050 bitcoins for $5.02 to NewLibertyStandard, one of the regulars in a bitcoin forum. The transaction is realized using PayPal. The bitcoins are used to seed a new bitcoin exchange site called New Liberty Standard.
The New Liberty Standard establishes the value of bitcoin at 1,309.03 bitcoins to 1 dollar.
The world's first bitcoin market is established by dwdollar.
May 22, 2010 Software developer Laszlo Hanecz buys two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins, widely seen as the first time the digital currency is used for its intended purpose - the purchase of goods.
July 7, 2010
Bitcoin's new software is released by the community of developers and over the next five days, there is a ten-fold increase in its exchange value - from US$0.008 per bitcoin to US$0.08 per bitcoin.
July 17, 2010
Mt. Gox is launched, which eventually becomes the world's largest bitcoin exchange, prior to going bankrupt in 2014.
Nov. 28, 2013
As media attention intensifies, Bitcoin tops $1,000 for the first time. It falls below that level only days later, and does not reach the landmark again for over three years. Feb. 28, 2014
Tokyo-based Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy protection after hackers steal some 850,00 bitcoins - worth around half a billion U.S. dollars - and $28 million in cash. The theft, the biggest of digital coins ever, underscores security flaws at exchanges and the risks faced by investors in the unregulated sector.
Aug. 1, 2017
Bitcoin's underlying software code splits to create Bitcoin Cash, a clone of bitcoin. The move is spearheaded by bitcoin miners in China unhappy with scheduled improvements to the currency's technology meant to increase its capacity to process transactions. Dec. 10, 2017
Chicago exchange operators Cboe Global Markets Inc and CME Group Inc launch bitcoin futures trading, allowing professional mainstream investors to bet on the price of the digital currency. Dec. 18, 2017
Bitcoin hits its record high of $19,666 on cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp, the high water mark of a frenzied year that sees bitcoin climb by more than 1,300 percent as retail investors scramble to buy. June 29, 2018
Bitcoin slides to its lowest level since its December peak, hurt by tighter regulatory oversight across the world and waning interest from retail investors. Oct. 19, 2018
The global money-laundering watchdog says it will set out by next year rules for how governments should regulate cryptocurrency exchanges in a bid to stamp out the criminal use of bitcoin and other digital coins.
Cryptocurrencies are now one of the most talked about technological shifts of recent times, with new companies announcing regularly that they are either going to start accepting them for their goods and services, or even going to start paying their employees with them.
With this uptake and increasing global acceptance of cryptocurrencies, we wanted to find out what percentage of people would accept them as part or all of their salary. From interviewing 1,000 people, we found that 31% WOULD be happy to be paid in a cryptocurrency.
So, how do the numbers break down? The current landscape of Bitcoin ownership shows that 90% of those with them are male. Therefore, it’s largely unsurprising that males are more likely to answer ‘yes’ to our survey. However, we found that 25% of women are interested in cryptocurrencies, they just may not own any yet.
There were also some surprising results within age groups. As expected, the most interested age group for being paid in cryptocurrencies were between 25 - 34 years old, leading the charge with 33%. This steadily decreased as respondents were older. However, those in the 65+ age group were more likely to answer ‘yes’ than those in the age group below, 55 - 64 years old.
During our investigation, we also wanted to find out what percentage of income people would be interested in receiving in this new form of currency. The majority here were on the risk-averse side, with 37% answering between 1 -20% of their income, favouring the majority of their income be paid in fiat money. The numbers again slightly decreased until we approached the higher end of the scale, where a total of 15% answered that they would be interested in 80 - 100% of their income as a cryptocurrency, demonstrating that the higher end if the scale is dominated by people ‘all-in’ on the new wave of currency.
For more information, have a read through our infographic below.
Nothing comes for free, especially online. Websites and apps that don’t charge you for their services are often collecting your data or bombarding you with advertising. Now some sites have found a new way to make money from you: using your computer to generate virtual currencies.
Several video streaming sites and the popular file sharing network The Pirate Bay have allegedly been “cryptojacking” their users’ computers in this way, as has the free wifi provider in a Starbucks cafe in Argentina. Users may object to this, especially if it slows down their computers. But given how hard it is for most companies to make money from online advertising, it might be something we have to get used to – unless we want to start paying more for things.
Units of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin aren’t created by a central bank like regular money but are generated or “mined” by computers solving complex equations. Cryptojacking involves using someone’s computer without their knowledge, perhaps for just seconds at a time, to mine a cryptocurrency.
In the case of bitcoin, mining requires specialised hardware and consumes masses of energy. For example, each bitcoin transaction takes enough energy to boil around 36,000 kettles filled with water. In a year, the whole bitcoin mining network consumes more energy than Ireland.
But bitcoin is not the only show in town and there are many competing cryptocurrences. One of the most successful is Monero, which builds a degree of privacy into transactions (something bitcoin doesn’t do). Currently it requires no specialised hardware for mining, so anyone with computing power to spare can mine it.
Mining usually takes the form of a competition. Whichever computer solves the equation the fastest is rewarded with the money. With Moreno and other similar cryptocurrencies, a pool of computers can work together and share the reward if they win the competition. This allows individual computers to work on a just small part of the mining task. The larger the pool, the more chance there is of winning the reward.
This means the website or internet provider doing the cryptojacking can mine cryptocurrency with little cost to themselves. One estimate is that 220 of the top 1,000 websites in the world are conducting cryptojacking, making a total of US$43,000 over a three week period. This might not be very much but file-sharing sites in particular have been searching for new businesses models in order to support their operations and cryptojacking could grow into a new income source.
The problem for the computer’s owner is that this takes up processor power, making other operations take much longer. Pirate Bay users have complained that their processors have been using up to 85% of their capacity compared with less than 10% for normal operations. This can be accompanied by a large battery drain. The Pirate Bay has since said this high processor usage was a bug and the system should normally use between 20% and 30% of processing power.
How do you avoid being cryptojacked?
Coinhive strongly advises the websites that deploy it that they should inform users they are being cryptojacked. But it’s common for the code to run without users realising and without a way to opt out of it. If you want to prevent your computer from being cryptojacked you need a software tool which checks the code as it runs such as an ad-blocker.
But you might feel that allowing a site to use a little bit of your computer’s processing power is a better alternative to being bombarded with advertising. Whatever you do, you’ll likely end up paying for “free” services somehow.