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Despite Slow Start, Analysts Believe 2018 Could be the Best Year for Bitcoin

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Cryptocurrency markets are not off to a good start in 2018. Most markets have lost nearly half of their value during the first few weeks. This most recent dip has pushed the momentum back as well. Even so, analysts are convinced this year will be very bullish for all cryptocurrency markets in the long run. Especially Bitcoin may see some big gains.

Bitcoin Scalability Improvements?

All cryptocurrency markets have seen major declines throughout the first seven weeks of 2018. Although Bitcoin showed some good momentum this week, most gains have been lost once again. Whether or not this is a bubble effectively bursting, remains to be determined. However, there are still a few solid reasons as to why things may turn out for the better. Julian Hosp remains bullish on cryptocurrency for quite some time to come.

Especially where Bitcoin is concerned, things can still improve quite a bit. With new scaling solutions coming to the ecosystem, a lot of progress will be made. Segregated Witness is now enabled by default through the Core client. It has also become more convenient to use altogether. If this adoption rate improves, the Lightning Network has a fair chance of succeeding as well. For now, there is no official release date for the Lightning Network as of yet.

With a lack of scaling, Bitcoin made a lot of headlines due to mounting fees. At one point, a Bitcoin transaction cost over $20. It is far from ideal, yet solving the problem is not all that easy. With SegWit and LN, those fees should eventually come down over time. Only time will tell if this works as people expect it to. Moreover, the addition of smart contracts to Bitcoin through Rootstock is something to look forward to.

Other Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

Cryptocurrency is about so much more than just Bitcoin, though. More regulation of this entire industry can be a good thing in many different ways. If an industry is regulated, it is “validated” in the eyes of the general public. For now, we see dozens of countries looking into regulating Bitcoin and other currencies. Not everyone is a big fan of regulation, as it imposes severe restrictions in some cases. For now, it seems further regulation will help legitimize cryptocurrencies and digital tokens moving forward.

Most people expected institutional investors to make a big impact on cryptocurrency. Through the Bitcoin futures, that should have happened some time ago. So far, the initial interest in such futures has been rather limited. Even though the volume is picking up, it remains to be seen if institutional investors effectively show a real interest in cryptocurrency. Depending on how this trend evolves, we may see some big progress in overall prices moving forward.

Last but not least, the elephant in the room is the ICO industry. To many people, it seems initial coin offerings are the downfall of cryptocurrency. With the SEC cracking down on illicit projects, things will improve moving forward. It all comes down to more legitimate coin offerings in the future, and which companies will embrace this model. Especially with Telegram turning their ICO into an IPO of sorts, it is evident the business model itself may see some big changes.

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Ethereum Creator Vitalik Buterin Donates $763,000 to Machine Intelligence Institute

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Artificial intelligence is both a blessing and a curse rolled into one. Some people are convinced AI will improve our society, whereas others remain fearful. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin donated $763,000 to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. With this money, the organization can further study potential hazards or artificial intelligence, among other things.

MIRI is Popular Among Cryptocurrency Users

Cryptocurrency can be used for many different purposes. Using it to fund other projects or even scientific research is one example. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin is doing exactly that. Last year, he contributed nearly 764,000 in Ethereum to the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. This nonprofit wants to address hazards associated with artificial intelligence now and in the future.

It is not uncommon for cryptocurrency users to contribute to scientific research. MIRI received nearly two-thirds of all donations in cryptocurrency. That shows people are more than willing to spread the wealth around and help improve our society. The donation by Vitalik Buterin is the largest of 2017. It’s also the third-largest donation in history.

Scientific research initiatives can benefit from cryptocurrencies. Although these markets are very volatile, it’s also a new source of donations for research. In the case of Bitcoin and Ethereum, there’s a good chance their value will go up in the future. For now, MIRI hasn’t confirmed if they converted the donation to fiat currency already. The nonprofit received twice the expected amount in donations during December 2017. This shows there are some real concerns associated with artificial intelligence.

Vitalik Buterin and AI

To some people, it may seem odd Vitalik Buterin is funding this research. Ethereum is known for its smart contract technology, among other things. These contracts are, according to some individuals, somewhat similar to AI. They automate processes and require no real maintenance by its creator once created. That is, assuming the contract is built properly and its code has been audited at some point.

Additionally, Ethereum supported the concept of a decentralized autonomous organization. This is another solution which is not all that different from how most people perceive artificial intelligence. At the same time, Ethereum is not using a coding language which “learns” automatically either. Developers make some vast improvements over time, but automation and AI are not the same by default.

For now, Vitalik Buterin is doing his good deed by donating to MIRI. It would be interesting to see who else donated to this particular nonprofit in December of 2017. Given the interest in what this group is doing, their research appears to be quite valuable. Whether or not Vitalik Buterin will make other similar donations, remains to be seen. Initiatives like these bring some positive momentum to the cryptocurrency industry as well.

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Turkey Considers National Crytpocurrency in the wake of El Petro

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Statements from both Iran and Turkey suggest that the two countries are about to launch a national cryptocurrency, stressing the need for strong regulation.

Following in the Wake of El Petro

As Venezuela’s El Petro raised over $700 million dollars in its first round of private funding, President Modoru took the podium the next day to announce the countries follow up, Petro Gold.

Instead of oil, this second currency’s value will be pegged to precious metals. This was about all the information given about the new token but it must have been convincing enough for Iran.

Despite overwhelming criticism and doubt cast on to the value and feasibility of the Petro, its sales figures were heard loud and clear as Iran announced that the framework for a cloud-based digital currency is being developed for submission to the national banking system.

The announcement was tweeted out by Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi who heads Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology after a meeting with state-owned Post Bank of Iran.

Though no information was given as to what role the cryptocurrency would take in the economy–for instance if it would also somehow be pegged to oil as the Petro is–the government has given hints in the past that it was considering adopting digital currency into the financial system.

Both In and Out

In direct conflict with Jahromi’s announcement, the Central Bank of Iran released a statement the same day denying that the republic recognizes Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency as legal tender.

“The wild fluctuations of the digital currencies along with competitive business activities underway via network marketing and pyramid scheme have made the market of these currencies highly unreliable and risky,”

The central bank was quoted by the Iranian Front Page News.

The story went on to warn Iranian citizens that they “may lose their financial assets” due to the extreme volatility of the cryptocurrency marketplace.

Likewise, the Turkish Government which had previously taken a negative stance on cryptocurrency, even ruling Bitcoin to be un-Islamic, has now announced plans for a “national Bitcoin” called the Turkcoin.

“The world is advancing toward a new digital system. Turkey should create its own digital system and currency before it’s too late,”  Former minister Ahmet Kenan Tanrikulu one of the authors of a report detailing the issue told Al- monitor.

Fears that nationally backed cryptocurrency by countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Russia all of which are under US-backed economic sanctions may undermine financial restrictions meant to promote human rights or stem military aggression have been voiced internationally.

The US treasury department put out a statement following the launch of the Petro that anyone investing in the coin could be treated as a creditor to the restricted nation and face penalties accordingly.

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Cardano Price Technical Analysis – ADA/USD Bearish Below $0.35

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Key Highlights

  • ADA price is struggling to recover and it recently declined below the $0.3200 level against the US Dollar (tethered).
  • There is a major declining channel forming with resistance at $0.3205 on the hourly chart of the ADA/USD pair (data feed via Bittrex).
  • The pair is currently correcting higher, but it may face a lot of resistance near $0.3250 and $0.3500 in the near term.

Cardano price declined further against the US Dollar and Bitcoin. ADA/USD is currently trading well below the $0.3500 level and in a bearish zone.

Cardano Price Decline

There was no major recovery in ADA price above the $0.3600 level against the US Dollar. The price did not move above the $0.4000 resistance and declined once again. During the recent slide, it broke the $0.3500 and $0.3300 support levels. It even traded below $0.3200 to test the $0.3000 area. A low was formed at $0.2995, and the price is currently consolidating losses around the $0.3000 level.

It is testing the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the last drop from the $0.3866 high to $0.2995 low. It seems like the price may find it hard to break the $0.3200 and $0.3300 resistance levels in the short term. There is also a major declining channel forming with resistance at $0.3205 on the hourly chart of the ADA/USD pair. The channel resistance at $0.3205 is near the 23.6% Fib level. If there is a break above $0.3205, the price may correct further higher. The next major resistance is near $0.3430 and the 50% Fib retracement level of the last drop from the $0.3866 high to $0.2995 low.

Cardano Price Technical Analysis ADA USD

On the downside, the $0.3000 level is a major support. If the price fails to stay above $0.3000, it could even trade back towards the $0.2500 level in the near term.

Hourly MACD – The MACD for ADA/USD is slowly recovering and is showing positive signs.

Hourly RSI – The RSI for ADA/USD is moving higher towards the 45-50 levels.

Major Support Level – $0.3000

Major Resistance Level – $0.3500

 

Charts courtesy – Cryptowat, Bittrex

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California Largest State to Recognize Blockchain Records

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California millennial Assemblyperson recently pushed a bill to recognize digital signatures and contracts recorded on the blockchain, making California one of several US States using or considering implementing the technology.

Millennial Assemblyperson Pushes Bill

Assemblymember Ian Calderon (D-Cal), who was elected to the state assembly at the age of 27 as the first ‘millennial’ assembly person, launched California assembly bill 2568 which would update existing laws to include blockchain technology for electronic signatures and contracts.

If the bill passes it would make California one of only a few states so far recognizing such technology but establish a precedent due to its size and economic importance.

California, as the most populous state in the US with 39 million citizens, commands a $2.3 trillion economy which reviles that of the entire UK would be a huge testing ground for blockchain implementation.

The new bill, which builds on the existing law dubbed the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, paves the way for an electronic record or signature secured by the blockchain to be deemed legal and enforceable. Key revisions in the latest version include –

  • the definition of “electronic” record and “electronic signature” would be expanded to encompass those secured via the blockchain
  • the legal definition of “contract” would be expanded to encompass a smart contract
  • data ownership/use would extend to someone performing interstate or foreign commerce on the blockchain in California “with respect to that information as before the person secured the information using blockchain technology,”

California Will be Important Stepping Stone

Other states such as neighboring Arizona, Wyoming and Tenessee have already passed similar bills but to make this happen in California would induce other states with similar size and economies like New York and Texas take the same steps into consideration.

Assemblyman Calderon is one of a few young tech-savvy politicians proposing changes to antiquated systems throughout the US. Jim Powell (Rep-) from Tenessee is representing a very similar bill in his state that by all indications will pass the next session.

If states like California continue to progress on using technology like Blockchain to record signatures, contracts and possibly immigration information the influence could be felt all the way to the top of the federal government.

Another budding California politician dubbed the ‘Crypto Kid’ Brian Forde was quoted when asked about aging politicians reaction to new technology.

“We’ve got all these emerging technologies that are going to have a big impact on our economy and our lives,” he says, “yet we don’t have the folks in Congress who understand that.”

A federal blockchain ledger system for everything from voting status, to taxation to immigration progress in a country like the US where so much information is lost or misaligned from state to state, should be inevitable.

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Ripple Price Technical Analysis – XRP/USD Tumbles Further

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Key Highlights

  • Ripple price could not hold the $0.9000 support and moved below the $0.8400 level against the US dollar.
  • There is a key bearish trend line forming with resistance at $0.8700 on the hourly chart of the XRP/USD pair (data source from SimpleFx).
  • The pair is trading around the $0.8400 level and is currently trading with a bearish bias.

Ripple price failed to move higher and declined against the US Dollar and Bitcoin. XRP/USD may correct a few points higher, but it could face resistance near $0.9000.

Ripple Price Upside Hurdle

There was an extension to yesterday’s decline in Ripple price from the $0.8800 swing high against the US Dollar. The price failed to hold the $0.9000 and $0.8400 support levels and declined further. An intraday low was formed at $0.8015 before price started a minor upside correction. It is currently trading above the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the last decline from the $0.9483 high to $0.8015 low.

However, there are many hurdles on the upside below the $0.9000 level. There is also a key bearish trend line forming with resistance at $0.8700 on the hourly chart of the XRP/USD pair. At the moment, the price is testing the 38.2% Fib retracement level of the last decline from the $0.9483 high to $0.8015 low. There is a chance of it moving further higher towards the $0.8700 or $0.8800 levels, but an upside break won’t be easy. Moreover, the 50% Fib retracement level of the last decline from the $0.9483 high to $0.8015 low is at $0.8749 to act as a resistance.

Ripple Price Technical Analysis XRP USD

On the downside, the $0.8100 and $0.8000 levels are decent supports. As long as the price is above the $0.8000 handle, it could make an attempt to recover above $0.9000.

Looking at the technical indicators:

Hourly MACD – The MACD for XRP/USD is slowly reducing its bearish slope.

Hourly RSI (Relative Strength Index) – The RSI for XRP/USD is currently moving higher towards the 50 level.

Major Support Level – $0.8000

Major Resistance Level – $0.9000

 

Charts courtesy – SimpleFX

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Moscow Looks to Blockchain for Fair Elections

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The city of Moscow is looking to evolve their Active Citizen polling network to log votes in upcoming elections. Thus making the election process transparent to all and tamper-free.

Active Citizens Decide for Themselves

As the white house continues to deny any allegations of collusion with Russian hackers and the FBI doggedly turns over more and more evidence of Russia’s influence on the 2016 elections the city of Moscow is making moves to make sure it can’t happen there.

Since 2014 the Russian city has had a program in place called Active Citizen. This program allows citizens to vote on big projects in order to eliminate corruption. So far citizens have cast their votes on the seat colors at the new Luzhinki stadium, whether or not to participate in a major housing renovation program and the official badges that doctors will wear in all the cities hospitals.

Blockchain Tech Can Help to Ensure Fair Election Polling

In 2017 the Active Citizen program was moved on to a Blockchain network where ideally the data can never be deleted or changed and the system cannot be hacked. Today it has added a private version of the Ethereum network to the existing architecture with a view towards implementing this into the city’s voting process.

In this way, city officials hope to soothe citizen’s fears of vote manipulation while showing the world’s governments that free and fair elections can be had in Russia.

“Of course, sometimes we hear that not all the votes are trusted,” said Andrey Belozerov, the strategy and innovations advisor to the city’s CIO;

“So, we decided to use a blockchain for the Active Citizen project, as a platform of electronic trust. The idea is to put all the votes to the blockchain to make it open so everybody can connect to our blockchain network, and to check the voting process, and so on and so-forth.”

Using blockchain technology to ensure that every vote is uniquely logged and that the process is absolutely transparent is a long way from the antiquated voting process still used in the United States.

Citizens of the US still vote using a system developed in the 19th century to make collecting and counting votes over the massive country feasible. Rules and regulations vary from state to state and in some case still rely on hundred-year-old machines.

As future elections will undoubtedly be influenced and tampered with by hackers both inside and out of the country a decentralized blockchain voting system not only makes sense but seems essential to maintaining a democracy in the digital era.

At the moment the Active Citizen system in Moscow has recorded 88 million votes on over 2,700 projects. With the implementation of blockchain for their next elections, there can be no dispute over results. The only hurdle left for fair and transparent election process will be resistance from government officials, not only in Moscow and the US but all over the world.

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