Cryptocurrency Will Have to Clean Up If It’s Going to Be Globally Accepted 4 957

Ignorance breeds misunderstanding. And that’s been an issue with cryptocurrency since its creation. Most of the public is either unaware or only partially aware that digital currencies exist. And a slimmer number of them know why. What generally makes the headlines is the volatility of Bitcoin and Ripple and shocking hacker attacks.

People either associate cryptocurrency with making a lot of money or losing a lot of money. And there’s something just a little bit shady about a decentralized alternative currency that isn’t regulated or globally approved.

For every brilliant ICO that comes out another 50 lackluster ones spring up. According to Ethereum founder, Vitalik Buterin, 90 percent of ICOs will fail.

There are plenty of scammers out there looking to raise funds fast with no intention of following through. And now that China has gone all out and banned cryptocurrency completely, one thing is clear: Crypto has a long way to go if it’s ever going to become the new norm and be accepted around the globe.

Crack Down on Illicit Actions

In an attempt to self-regulate, the cryptocurrency world is starting to produce sites that will pre-vet ICOs and offer opinions and feedback. It’s not a hard and fast guarantee, but taking advice from trustworthy sites will help investors steer away from scam artists, or at least know what to look for when investing in cryptocurrency.

Cases of hacking will have to cease for people to start fully trusting in cryptocurrencies, and more information needs to be available. In fact, one hacker recently returned $26 million in stolen Ether, several months after his ICO theft. That’s unlikely to set a precedent for the rest of these cyber criminals, but if ICOs are required to adhere to certain professional and coding standards, they will be harder to hack.

ICOs can use safe holdings, for example, in which investments are accumulated in the accounts of investors, rather than being held in one common account that’s easy to hack into from outside.

A Rise in Regulation

It’s been the elephant in the room for some time. Everyone knows that Bitcoin, Ether and friends need regulation. Some rules and best practices need to be established to protect investors. Yet, no one is rushing to do it because of a fear of restricting crypto’s innovation and growth. But, if cryptocurrency is going to become globally accepted, it’s going to have to be subject to greater regulation.

The European Union will be holding meetings to discuss how to go about monitoring crypto, and Japan is also looking at creating a regulatory framework in order to weed out scam artists. This would apply to Japanese companies trying to raise funds through ICOs.

As token sales begin to gain in popularity within Japan, the Financial Service Agency is soon to revise its relevant laws and regulations to include ICOs, as well as revising the existing Bitcoin payment law that came out in April of 2017. In fact, Japan’s FSA is already monitoring any ICO that targets Japanese investors.

Other nations are also making moves to renew or revise their laws when it comes to ICOs. These include Austria, who recently announced their plans to create regulations specific to cryptocurrency, but using their existing rules for gold trading as a model.

The Takeaway

After the epic rise and fall of Bitcoin’s value, Ripple’s insanely volatile worth, hacking attacks and scam artists, crypto has gotten a bad name. But if digital currency is going to move forward and allow instant transactions without fees and an easier way to pay, this year, it will surely see more regulation before wide scale adoption occurs.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? Comments Off on Why Is Everyone Talking About NFTs? 52043

In this writer’s opinion the NFT hype is warranted — but not for the reason most people are investing. 

For those who’ve been in the space since Bitcoin’s early surge, you’ll remember the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) boom of 2017. The crowdfunding vehicle, which mirrored an IPO on the public market, brought with it massive amounts of investment into the blockchain space that seemed to mirror Bitcoin’s rapidly increasing value. 

In retrospect, none of it made sense. 

With all the hype, the investment in the space didn’t match due diligence. As of August 2018, investors had lost nearly $100M in ICO exit scams, a major reason we no longer hear about ICOs. 

From there, crowdfunding through token sales was rebranded alongside SEC regulation as Security Token Offerings (STOs). Additional fundraising iterations to enter the scene are Initial DEX Offerings (IDOs) and Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs).

NFTs are having a similar moment to the immature and potentially reckless ICO market of 2017. The danger can be credited to a mix of hype and a widely unregulated environment with various points of entry and gatekeepers that are not incentivized to shore up fraud. 

As a result, many purchasers of NFTs are falling victim to a spectrum that spans undeserving projects on the mild end and outright scams at the extreme. Meanwhile, hackers are exploiting the unregulated environment. 

Just yesterday, $3 million in NFTs were stolen via an Instagram phishing scam. 

This writer, however, is still bullish on NFTs — just not the ones that are getting all the attention.

NFTs represent a concrete entry-point into the blockchain with a tangible utility and infinite disruptive implications. 

Here are a few.

Digital Assets as Social Proof 

As a Millennial, I personally have a hard time understanding the notion of owning and assigning value to a digital asset, but my kids don’t. 

I’ve written about how Gen Z has already adopted the concept of social proof in digital environments by assigning socially relevant value to digital assets like video game skins. 

As Gen Z ages and becomes an increasingly powerful consumer population, this experience will matter. Whether or not their purchase behavior translates to adulthood remains to be seen, but our kids are already leveraging digital assets in the metaverse to exhibit their position in the social hierarchy in the same way that my generation assigned value to Jansport-brand backpacks. 

Their concept of digital assets will be fundamentally different from ours, and NFTs are likely to benefit. 

But Why Are NFTs Relevant to Me Now?

Social proof is far from the most interesting use case for NFTs. 

In the near-term, NFTs can be utilized to store sale information of physical goods on the blockchain in order to eliminate nefarious actors in fraud-riddled industries like fine wine and art. 

Moreover, NFTs can disrupt any industry with a substantial secondary market. By coding royalties into the smart contract of NFTs, original sellers of wine, art and other trade-susceptible brands and industries can ensure they’ll capture a fee anytime an item is transferred. 

This solves a major problem for creators like photographers, artists and musicians that are notoriously underpaid in comparison to the value they create for brokers. It also has the potential to cut out middlemen like auction houses, record labels, and galleries to democratize the creator economy. 

Other Innovators Have Introduced Creative Use Cases for NFTs

Gary Vaynerchuk utilizes NFTs as tickets for events and other value-adds to his community. Forbes introduced a series of NFT Billionaires that will update alongside the real-time NYSE to gamify their user’s NFT experience in a way that’s brand-relevant. Foxies.art is using a gamified version of NFTs to fundraise blockchain education for women. 

The utility of NFTs is confined only by the imagination of our innovators. Whether or not NFT headlines today will remain relevant is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: the disruption is only beginning. 

Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans Comments Off on Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans 49045

The move is the first for a major retirement plan provider and may signal more widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency. 

On April 26, Fidelity announced its intention to add a Bitcoin investment option to its 401(k) retirement plans. Employees of businesses that pursue the option will be able to allocate as much as 20% of their contributions to Bitcoin, all from the company’s main investment dashboard. According to reporting by the Washington Post, Fidelity said that at least one employer has already signed up for the option which will launch later this year.

“Fidelity’s leadership, especially CEO Abby Johnson, has been at the forefront of institutional Bitcoin and crypto integration for years and is no stranger to the space, with Fidelity’s private equity and venture capital arm being a major source of capital for crypto miners, crypto SPACs, crypto hedge funds and more,” says Eric Lamison-White, Director at STS Capital Group LLC, a cross-border advisory and investment firm. “It is completely in character for Fidelity to steadily and cautiously extend access to their working class customers as the regulatory climate becomes more productive.”

Critics suggest that the volatility of Bitcoin poses an unnecessary risk to a retirement portfolio. It’s a reasonable argument. At the time of this writing, the cryptocurrency’s price has fallen by more than 6% just today. Meanwhile, at $37,978 it’s a far cry from Bitcoin’s high of $68,000, representing more than a 40% drop since November 10th of last year. 

However, advocates of cryptocurrency’s long-term utility disagree.

“Cryptocurrency is a reliable, long-term store of value because it cannot be corrupted by central authorities,” says Lisa Carmen Wang, founder of The Bad Bitch Empire, a platform for female investors in web3. “We’ve already seen hyperinflation, bank failures, and other egregious disasters happen in the last few years, so trust in governments is at an all-time low. Crypto is inevitably volatile now because it is an early stage high-risk/high-reward investment, but for those who believe in the values of a decentralized economy, crypto is an attractive long-term investment that people should consider having in their portfolio.”

Regardless of your appetite for risk, the notion that savers will be able to easily manage contributions to Bitcoin in a respected retirement plan is meaningful.

As of last year, 63% of US adults that did not hold crypto were curious about it. Many people in the crypto-curious category don’t invest because they simply don’t know how. There’s a technological barrier to entry that can feel daunting. 

When you have major retirement plan managers like Fidelity making it easy to add Bitcoin to a portfolio through a dashboard users are already familiar with, we may see this group start investing in the asset class, moving digital currencies further along toward mainstream adoption.

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