What Does China’s Full Ban of Cryptocurrency Exchanges Mean for Bitcoin? 29 1795

The rumors were true. China finally announced its full ban on cryptocurrency exchanges yesterday, causing catastrophic landslides in Bitcoin trading value. Hitting a new low on Monday February 5th, Bitcoin dropped below $7,000 for the first time since November 2017, losing approximately 60 percent of its value in just three months.

It wasn’t only Bitcoin that took a bashing, either. Ethereum and Ripple were also heavily affected and other cryptocurrencies as well, losing a collective total of $60 billion in just 24 hours. So, what does this mean for the future of Bitcoin, and could this be the start of the bursting bubble that so many analysts predicted?

China’s Ban on Bitcoin

You have to admit, it doesn’t look good on paper. While the threat of China banning digital currencies has long been looming overhead, the crackdown previously only applied to domestic cryptocurrency exchanges. But yesterday, the central bank announced its intention to block all cryptocurrency trading platforms, including the issuing of ICOs. Moreover, China’s infamous “great firewall” will block all cryptocurrency websites as well.

It’s still unclear whether India will follow suit, although the country’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley reported that the country aimed to “eliminate” usage of all digital currencies. With nothing certain as of yet, and lack of government action, a full ban is not anticipated any time soon. Moreover, India is currently a minor player in the cryptocurrency world. There are greater, more pressing threats to deal with.

The Banks

One of the issues that has repeatedly hampered the widespread adoption of Bitcoin is the sticky matter of regulation. The success of the digital currency is largely tied into the banks’ reaction to it, and now they have dealt Bitcoin a further blow by starting to restrict the use of their services for buying cryptocurrencies.

Lloyds Banking Group, a major UK lender, said on Monday that people would no longer be able to buy cryptocurrencies with their credit cards. This announcement comes on the back of US banks, J.P Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America, who implemented the same policy the week before.

Tether

With all eyes on Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, cryptocurrency, Tether, may have fallen under the radar, but it’s a silent and potentially deadly threat. What’s so special about Tether? Tether tokens are tied to the dollar, with one token equalling one dollar. And the largest exchange in the world, Bitfinex, has been steadily increasing supplies of Tether in the last few months.

But with the 1:1 ratio, Bitfinex has been accused of not having enough reserves of dollars to issue Tether tokens. Moreover, because of Tether’s dollar value, the price of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could have been inflated, as investors have been buying with Tether and not with actual US dollars. What does all this mean? If the accusations are true and Bitfinex doesn’t have the dollar reserve to support the amount of Tether tokens in existence, things could get pretty ugly.

Is There Any Hope For Bitcoin on The Horizon?

That depends what angle you examine it from. There are still some analysts positive about the ailing cryptocurrency future. Wall Street’s Tom Lee, the only major strategist to issue Bitcoin price targets, commented that this major low for Bitcoin represents the biggest buying opportunity of this year. He further issued a report maintaining his target price of $25,000 for Bitcoin.

Saxo Bank analyst, known for predicting the crypto rally at the start of 2017, Kay Van-Petersen also told CNBC that he believed Bitcoin could still hit between $50,000 and $100,000 this year.

Whether these figures are to be believed or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. Crypto investors and ICOs will be biting their nails around the globe as the roller coaster gets set for further intense highs and lows.

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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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Stakester Brings New Experiences and Royalties to Gamers with NFTs Comments Off on Stakester Brings New Experiences and Royalties to Gamers with NFTs 300

A cheat code NFT allows owners to accrue money, prizes and royalties in the context of popular games.

On Tuesday, Stakester announced its intention to launch a VIP pass in the form of NFTs that it says will enhance the experience for users of its popular gaming app. 

The app, which pairs gamers with real-life opponents, allows players to stake real cash and prizes on their competitive skills in popular games like FIFA 21 and Call of Duty: Warzone. It’s seen significant growth since its launch in 2020, and touts 100,000 members across 31 countries. 

With the forthcoming NFT drop, users will now unlock the potential for larger prizes, access to VIP arenas, and 50% of royalties on the secondary market.

“The NFTs embody Stakester’s vision of delivering electrifying gaming experiences through the thrill of competition,” says Tom Fairey, Founder and CEO of Stakester. “NFT holders will help us shape new, undreamt-of entertainment experiences as gaming becomes ever more powerful and immersive.”

Two levels of NFTs will be offered. At .1 and .25 ETH, respectively, the barrier to entry is high, but Stakester is hoping gamers will see the value of layered experiences and unlocking additional incentives with real-world value. 

“The idea of earning rewards, just like a normal reward scheme but built around NFTs, is totally fit for the future,” says Mike White, CEO and Strategist of immersive entertainment marketing agency, Lively.  “The whole idea of royalties is truly exciting.” 

Stakester’s 50% royalty incentive, Fairey believes, will create stakeholders out of the players on his platform.

 “As well as the increase in gaming utility, the NFT drops provide Stakester users with a chance to invest in the future of the company and, for VIP Legendary holders, there’s also an opportunity to benefit from a royalty share from certain competitions and to make a passive income from NFTs, regardless of whether they go up in value or not,” he says. “Stakester is one of the only platforms to offer this kind of bonus.”

White points out that Gala Games is doing something similar with Nodes which allow gamers to receive rewards like NFTs when they contribute meaningfully to the Gala Network.

He predicts that legacy gaming companies will be adopting similar NFT models, but the winners in the NFT gaming race are hard to predict, particularly since there’s so much attention around NFTs that it’s hard to differentiate between hype and long-term value. 

“I’m sure it will be an immediate success,” he says. “Will it be a long-term thing? We can only wait and see.”

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. 

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