China Ranks Ethereum as the World’s Best Blockchain Network, Bitcoin at #13

On May 17, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released its public blockchain ratings, ranking various blockchain projects like Ethereum in the global cryptocurrency sector based on three criteria: technology, application, and innovation.

Bitcoin at #13

As shown in the chart below, the Chinese government ranked Ethereum as the world’s best blockchain network at number 1. The top five included Ethereum, Steem, Lisk, NEO, and Komodo, all of which utilize smart contracts to efficiently and securely process information in a decentralized manner.

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Replying to @cnLedger

3/ Full list:
1-5: #ETH, #STEEM, #LSK, #NEO, #KMD
6-10: #XLM, #ADA, #IOTA, #XMR, #STRAT
11-15: #QTUM, #BTS, #BTC, #XVG, #WAVES
16-20: #ETC, #XRP, #DASH, #SC, #BCN
21-25:#LTC, #ARK, #ZEC, #NANO, #BCH
26-28: #DCR, #HSR, #XEM

cnLedger@cnLedger

4/ Detailed scores of the first crypto ratings by CCID Research, China’s Ministry of Industry & Information Technology pic.twitter.com/7LiJIWokge

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The addition of Steem in the top five rankings of the Chinese government’s blockchain network was unexpected by the community because unlike Lisk and NEO, Steem is not a base layer blockchain technology that can be used to create decentralized applications. Steem is a content distribution platform based on the blockchain with a primary purpose of distributing content. Essentially, Steem is like Reddit based on the decentralized blockchain.

Another surprising addition to its top 10 rankings was Monero at number 9, given that several governments including the Japanese government and its financial services agency (FSA) have expressed their concerns towards cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash that are capable of processing anonymous payments that could be associated with money laundering and criminal activities.

The cryptocurrency community was taken aback by the ranking of bitcoin at 13, which was co-ranked with privacy-focused cryptocurrency Verge. The bitcoin community was understandably outraged by the ranking of bitcoin at 13, considering that bitcoin has the longest track record as the most secure and dominant cryptocurrency in the global market.

The argument that bitcoin’s application is limited to a form of money and payment is illogical, as the Chinese government ranked Steem, which has a single application on its blockchain network that is a content distribution platform, as the 2nd best blockchain network behind Steem.

More importantly, bitcoin has one of the most active open source development communities in the global cryptocurrency sector and it has developed innovative technologies like Confidential Transactions (CT), Bulletproofs, and Lightning Network, which allows developers to enable private transactions, process micro-payments, and with solutions like RootStock, potentially allow bitcoin to function as an Ethereum-like smart contracts platform.

Exceeded Expectations

The majority of the cryptocurrency community expected the Chinese government to rank private blockchain networks and protocols that can assist the government in surveillance or monitoring transactions at the top. Hence, the ranking of the government which placed cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Monero demonstrate the intent of the government to remain objective in its assessment.

However, analysts have stated that the Chinese government has overlooked the long track record, hashrate, computing power, and accumulated difficulty of major blockchain networks like bitcoin and prioritized next-generation blockchain networks instead.

Earlier this month, South China Morning Post, a major publication based in Hong Kong, reported that China’s public blockchain rankings were developed by China Center for Information Industry Development (CIID), an institute that works closely with the government to advise on policymaking in technology.

The high ranking of Ethereum and smart contract blockchain networks could influence the government to potentially allow some blockchain networks to operate in China.

Philippines Legalizes Cryptocurrency in Economic Zone of CEZA

The Philippine government is welcoming nearly a dozen cryptocurrency companies to operate in a special tax-friendly economic zone situated in close proximity to a number of neighboring countries.

According to a Reuters report, the Philippines will legalize the entry of  top 10 blockchain and cryptocurrency companies to operate in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), a government-controlled economic zone that is within an hour’s flight away from the likes of Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan.

The government aims to woo cryptocurrency companies to operate out of the economic zone with tax benefits to help generate employment opportunities locally, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority chief Raul Lambino told Reuters.

Notably, the official confirmed that the government will also license – in effect legalize – the cryptocurrency firms in the special zone.

The companies will also be allowed to operate exchanges, offer initial coin offerings (ICOs) and engage in cryptocurrency mining within the zone, he added, stating:

We are about to license 10 platforms for cryptocurrency exchange. They are Japanese, Hong Kong, Malaysians, Koreans…They can go into cryptocurrency mining, initial coin offerings, or they can go into exchange.

There is a caveat, however. Any exchange of fiat money into cryptocurrencies or vice-versa should be conducted beyond Philippines’ borders to avoid infringing the country’s laws.

To aid in bringing jobs to those companies, the economic zone’s regulator is also considering establishing a new financial technology university in the economic zone with a specific focus on blockchain technology, Lambino added.

The embracive stance follows newly introduced rules by the CEZA in February which allowed cryptocurrency companies to legally establish offices and facilities in the special zone. To gain a license, companies must invest at least $ 1 million in the zone over two years and pay up to $100,000 in licensing fees.

Meanwhile, in the mainland, the Philippines’ central bank was previously known to be reviewing the applications of a dozen operators vying to register and launch cryptocurrency exchanges in the country as recently as December. It remains to be seen if these operators have since switched tact to register in the economic zone instead.

The Philippines became one of the earliest nations in the world to publish regulations for cryptocurrency exchanges in early 2017. The deputy director of the central bank, appearing in a televised interview in October 2017, lauded the ‘pioneering regulation’ and said bitcoin, as a monetary instrument, is “fast, near real-time and convenient”.

Bitcoin Price Moves To $9,000 With Strong Momentum

The bitcoin price has surpassed $8,800 after rising more than 6 percent over the past 24 hours. Volumes across major cryptocurrency exchanges remain strong and the daily trading volume of the market has increased past $26 billion for the first time over the past month.

$9,200

On March 21, the bitcoin price tested the $9,200 support level but failed to sustain momentum for mid-term growth and fell below the $6,500 mark within two weeks after struggling to bounce off $8,200.

At this juncture, it is likely that the bitcoin price tests the $9,200 level it had touched in late March, and a movement past that level would lead the bitcoin price to the $10,000 region by the end of April.

In November 2017, investors described the $10,000 mark as a psychological threshold and a key milestone. At the time, traders predicted the price of bitcoin to surge substantially subsequent to surpassing $10,000. Almost immediately after breaking into the $10,000 region, the bitcoin price surged to $14,000 and eventually to $20,000.

Since the initial correction of bitcoin in February, the market has not been able to demonstrate any sign of stability. The price of most alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) and tokens followed the short-term trend of bitcoin and the volume of regional exchanges in Japan and South Korea significantly decreased.

Fundamentally, bitcoin is in an ideal position to initiate a new rally in both the short and mid-term, given that the adoption of cryptocurrency in general has started to increase. Moveover, in late 2017, the majority of speculators who bought into the cryptocurrency market did so out of FOMO, or fear of missing out, without solid knowledge in the structure and fundamentals of cryptocurrencies.

Over the past five months, the awareness of cryptocurrency has increased drastically and a substantially large number of individuals have started to understand the basics of decentralized financial networks and cryptocurrencies.

As such, fintech company Smart Valor CEO Olga Feldmeier stated that in the next two years, the bitcoin price will reach a value of $100,000, and within 2018, the bitcoin price will surpass its previous high at $20,000.

“I believe that we will see a comeback to the height achieved at the end of 2017 this year. Over the next two years I still predict we could see it reach a value of $100,000,” Olga told The Independent.

Rise of Altcoins

Throughout this week, CCN reported that the altcoin season may have started with strong consistent performances of small cryptocurrencies and tokens. Today, several tokens like STORM have recorded a gain of above 30 percent against bitcoin and about 40 percent against the US dollar.

Investors have gained more confidence in the cryptocurrency market and are now willing to take more risks by investing in cryptocurrencies with higher volatility and lower liquidity.

Still, in an interview with FT, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin stated that the valuation of most altcoins or tokens cannot be justified and are overblown. “There’s projects that never had a soul, that are just like, ra-ra, price go up. Lambo, vrromm, buybuybuy now!” Buterin said.

Bitcoin: The Return of The King

Most of you have seen this little, tiny, minuscule, almost invisible jump in volume that happen on the 12th April 2018. So far, it has been the singular highest jump in volume ever seen as market cap went from ~ $270 Billion to ~ $300 Billion. It means around $30 Billion were added to the market in less than 3 hours.

Bitcoin’s dominance remains over 40% and I suspect it will continue to rise as most money that just entered the market should be institutional. There are some strong contenders, like Ripple, due to the nature of the backers (mainly banks and financial institutions).

Nevertheless, there are two ways of looking at this, in my own personal opinion:

  • Either the money that just entered the market stays with the King, or
  • It’s distributed among preferential projects (top-10 I would bet on).

Because there is currently a huge time gap between technological developments and price, meaning price moves due to pure speculation rather than technological advancements or issues that arise. If you think differently look at the examples of IOTA or Verge which have been hacked, however prices of both coins kept rising afterwards. Heck, think about bitcoin: when did the price hit its maximum valuation? At the same time fees were the highest ever.

Price is dictated by volume and what happened was a grand spike in smart-money coming into the market. Maybe some of the money that left at the end of January is coming back.

 

Should we expect the price to continue rising?

Some technical analysts believe price will continue to rise. Then again, the opposite might happen depending on many factors:

  1. Geopolitical tensions between Russia and the U.S. will most definitely shake-up traditional markets. This will no doubt influence the amount of money available to invest in the cryptocurrency market. I’m just not sure how this will affect all markets as at the end, there might be a surprising shift; people could begin to trust more in bitcoin due to its security, resilience and the fact it’s independent from governments and economies.
  2. Investors going short on bitcoin got destroyed and likely lost a lot of money. What can counter this is the CME Bitcoin contracts futures price, as I expect the futures’ volume to rise exponentially. Why? That’s easy: because it’s profitable for those investing in both markets.

  1. News sources. When many positive news start to arrive we usually see a growing euphoria and hype (check google trends) from dumb-money entering the market leading to massive price runs. I see no reason for this to be different this time. If history taught us something is that it “repeats” itself, going around and around in circles.
  2. Small technological hops (pun intended) will play a massive role in the long-term future, as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are being given time to prepare for adoption worldwide. Hopefully exchanges won’t need to block new hordes of users signing up, bitcoin’s lightning network will be fully operational and segwit adopted by most mining agents and trading platforms.

We cannot forget price is crucial to bring new people into the market, but to keep those users technology must answer today’s problems. People do not care if money is centralized, decentralized, distributed, digital, or physical; People care about:

  • How can I get that money?
  • How much do I pay to store and transfer that money?

For truly massive adoption either the bitcoin team thinks of a way to easily distribute it among where is needed, this is, in countries where banking is limited for example, or a benign group of people develops a way to distribute the currency directly to people in exchange for something, other than money (time, attention, services, etc). I understand those who think until this currency is used by business worldwide it’s a joke. I get it, I truly do, however if the purpose of this cryptocurrency is to bank the un-banked and to be successful in connecting communities worldwide by allowing anyone to transfer and store value over the internet, then maybe the right way to do this would be to simply find ways to trade bitcoin for time and services in those places.

–note: i did not mention the question “how long does that money take to get to another account?”as the current banking system needs 3-5 business days for international transfers to take place. When the bitcoin network is clogged, i have personally waited around 24h for a bitcoin transfer to get approved. It still beats the banking system for personal transactions, which is the final aim of this cryptocurrency (in my opinion)–

Easier said than done

The reality, of course, is that acceptance dictates the rules of the game; businesses  have to start pushing cryptocurrencies by accepting them. At the end of the day for cryptocurrency to be used, all intervening agents must participate.

We must not forget there will always be two sides to the same coin:

  • Should we focus solely on price and volume, to master our gains? Or
  • Should we focus in improving technology scalability and marketing, to achieve worldwide adoption?

Doing one alone would be unwise as balancing both seems to be the right way for the market to grow. My only hope is that the entire community keeps improving the consensus in bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies), never forgetting its true purpose

Ethereum , Ripple and other cryptocurrecies values riseas Bitcoin price spikes

The price of bitcoin rose by $1,000 in less than an hour, sparking massive gains across cryptocurrency markets

Bitcoin’s sudden price rise has resulted in gains across cryptocurrency markets, with ethereum, ripple and litecoin all surging in value.

Within the space of an hour on Thursday, 12 April, bitcoin rose by more than $1,000 – breaking above $8,000 for the first time since March.

The movement’s of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency is usually reflected across other virtual currencies, and this unprecedented spike was no exception.

Ethereum, which boasts a market cap of around $45 billion, shot up in price by 10 per cent, taking it close to $500. At its peak in January, one ether was worth more than $1,300.

Similar percentage gains were experienced by ripple, which has the third highest market cap behind bitcoin and ethereum.

The altcoin EOS saw the largest gains out of all the top five most-valuable cryptocurrencies, rising by over 30 per cent to take its market cap above $7 billion.

The market-wide shift follows several months of steadily sliding prices for bitcoin, which peaked at nearly $20,000 in December 2017.

Dramatic market movements are not unusual for the notoriously volatile cryptocurrency, which can often be triggered by positive or negative news surrounding regulation and laws.

The latest surge does not appear to be related to any significant news within the cryptocurrency space, however, with some analysts suggesting the gains come from a change in sentiment amongst investors.

“In this scenario traders with short positions will start to lose money and liquidate their positions by buying bitcoin,” Ed Cooper, head of mobile at fintech startup Revolut, told The Independent.

“This causes the price to rise further and as more people start to notice the rise they buy in for a quick gain. This continues the cycle.”

Despite the gains, Cooper advised investors to be cautious about betting on a positive direction of the market beyond the short term.

“We’d need to see a sustained rise over a number of weeks to signal the end of the bear market,” Cooper said. “We’re definitely not there yet.”

UK Watchdog to Publish its Review on Cryptocurrencies Later this Year

Britain’s financial regulator and markets watchdog outline its policy thinking on cryptocurrencies with a review to be published later this year.

In revealing its business plan for the coming financial year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) underlined cryptocurrencies as ‘an area of increasing interest for markets and regulators globally’. While admitting that cryptocurrencies do not directly fall under its regulatory scope, the FCA stressed that certain models of their usage bring them under its purview in a ‘complex’ landscape.

Pointedly, the FCA confirmed it would reveal its own take on cryptocurrencies, policy-wise, later this year. The regulator said:

We will work with the Bank of England and the Treasury as part of a taskforce to develop thinking and publish a Discussion Paper later this year outlining our policy thinking on cryptocurrencies.

The FCA is notably a member of the ‘Cryptoassets Task Force’ established by the British government in March 2018, consisting of the regulator, Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Bank of England (the central bank). The working group will explore and study the benefits and risks of cryptocurrencies, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said last month, helping the UK’s fintech sector to ‘grow and flourish’ in a regulatory climate that has broadly been supportive of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies over the years.

On Friday, the FCA mandated firms offering cryptocurrency derivatives to comply with all applicable rules to be authorized, stating it would be a ‘criminal offence’ otherwise.

Earlier in February, the UK’s Treasury Select Committee, an influential group of cross-party members of parliament (MPs), launched an inquiry into cryptocurrencies in an effort to better understand them.

While the Treasury Committee confirmed it would look at risks and threats posed by cryptocurrencies to ‘consumers, businesses and governments’, committee chair Nicky Morgan stressed the group would “also examine the potential the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies and the technology underpinning them, how they can create innovative opportunities, and to what extent they could disrupt the economy and replace traditional means of payment.”

Committee member Alison McGovern added that the inquiry would help UK lawmakers and politicians to better educate themselves on cryptocurrencies before enforcing policies. “It is time that Whitehall and Westminster understood cryptocurrency better and thought more clearly about the policy environment for blockchain technology,” she stated.

Israel: Steps Toward Cryptocurrency Support

In terms of technological innovation, Israel has been labeled by some as “The Startup Nation”with Israeli ventures raising over $5 billion in capital in 2017. This is almost 10% of China’s yearly fundraising total. While there’s a number of popular applications, platforms, and products including USB flash drives, the Waze navigation app, SodaStream carbonation machines, the country has set its foot in the crypto industry as well.

Back in 2017, Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, partnered with Microsoft to create a Blockchain-powered platform to “make the process of signing up guarantors simple and quicker.” And in February 2018, the Israeli Tax Authority (ITA) stated that cryptocurrencies will be taxed by the capital gains as properties.

On February 26, 2018, the country took it even further, when the Israeli Supreme Court handed down a decision that would temporarily block Leumi Bank, limiting a local broker, Bits of Gold, from facilitating the sale of cryptocurrency.

Though many were quick to laud the temporary ruling as ‘precedent-setting,’ it still leaves ample room for further developments. The judge ruling the case, Anat Baron, said that her decision was “not intended to harm the bank’s rights to analyze with specificity every transaction that takes place with the bank account or to take any actions that are related to minimizing risks.” This likely means cryptocurrency brokers and exchanges putting transparency first will be regarded as lawful—for now

Founder and CEO of Bits of Gold Yuval Roash sees this decision as justified, saying,

“Regulation is one of the things that has been important to us since the beginning. From the very beginning, we saw the problem with Bitcoin in terms of its anonymous characteristics, and we wanted to receive a currency service certificate—and we received it in August 2013.”

This is significant progress from December of last year, when a Tel Aviv district court ruled in favor of Leumi Bank, who had refused service to Bits of Gold because of Bitcoin’s inability to meet anti-money laundering standards. Bank Leumi had also been piggybacking on the Bank of Israel’s June labeling of exchanges as “websites that facilitate gambling transactions”, which is a sore spot for Israel especially. The country proved to be careful about upsetting the balance within its borders, and even blocked popular ride-sharing application Uber from an Israeli debut.

After examining the last five years of Bits of Golds’ operations, Judge Baron determined Leumi’s previous assumption that violations of the law would occur if Bitcoin were left unchecked were false.

In relation to the ruling, Yair Geva, head of the Hi-Tech Department of Israeli law firm Herzog, Fox & Ne’eman, remarked:

“It should be emphasized that the Court did not rule on the fundamental question—which has not yet been decided—whether Bank Leumi is entitled to refuse banking services for cryptocurrency trading. Although the final decision is still pending, it seems that this recent verdict of the Supreme Court will continue to give tailwinds to the tremendous growth of the crypto industry in Israel particularly, and to hi-tech as well as the financial industry in general. One of the reasons for this is that the Supreme Court clarified that Bits of Gold operated transparently and did not violate any statutory provision. In other words, the Supreme Court determined that currently there is no direct legal prohibition on cryptocurrency trading in Israel. It remains to be seen how regulators in Israel will respond to this landmark decision.”

Regardless of how regulators will respond, it’s already clear that progress on Israeli blockchain innovations hasn’t slowed.

“As with any new and promising technology, jurisdictions that instate well-balanced policies to promote innovation and adoption, will find themselves attracting talent and business to their ecosystems on grand scales. The best frameworks will be the ones that take a learning approach, allowing entrepreneurs and institutions to deeply understand how these technologies affect all stakeholders and develop the policies which are beneficial to most while educating the public on tradeoffs and accountability. Israel has always seen the advancement of technology as a strength and opportunity, and is well positioned to lead in Blockchain development and applications,” said Galia Benartzi, Co-founder of Bancor.

Itay Nagler, Israeli citizen and CEO of blockchain-driven travel startup Cool Cousin, says that Israelis, as a default, undercut the perception that things can’t or shouldn’t change.

“We are almost raised to believe that there is always a better, more efficient way to do things. That is one of the main reasons such a small country is home to many great innovative companies and individuals. This is also an explanation to why Israelis were among the firsts to adopt blockchain technology and crypto. A lot of us see it as a wonderful solution to many problems and our mentality of “no fear” to change, and relatively easy access to quality human resources and funding allows us to act on it. This, I believe, helped us during the past decades to position ourselves as pioneers and experts in many industries.”

Even though there were no concrete regulations of the industry before, it didn’t stop entrepreneurs from launching blockchain projects of their own. Bancor was one of the first major ICOs, raising over $150 million in mere minutes, and has its origins in Israel. IOTA , an IoT-focused Blockchain solution, recently opened an office in Tel Aviv, noting that the city is “a well-established tech hub, always ranking in the top 10 of start-up reports.”

These positive changes, however, go contrary to the recent decision by the Israeli regulators of not including companies involved in the crypto industry in the TASE, Tel Aviv Stock Exchange indices, due to its ‘trading volatility.’

Israel appears to be setting itself in the Blockchain ecosystem, along with the rest of the world, but tries first guarantee that the market’s grey areas be limited while its most useful attributes allowed to flourish

Traditional Liechtenstein Bank Launches Cryptocurrency Investment Platform

Citizens of Liechtenstein, a country that has become rather famous for its cryptocurrency acceptance, will soon be able to purchase digital currencies directly from a bank. Given the royal family’s demonstrated interest in the asset class and the general willingness to embrace cryptocurrency development, the move is perhaps not too surprising.

According to a press release issued by Bank Frick on February 28, 2018, it will be offering a wide variety of cryptocurrencies on its trading platform effective immediately. The initial set of digital currencies available for purchase will include BitcoinEthereumLitecoin, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash.

The target audience of the bank likely comprises of high net worth individuals and institutional investors, or rather, the type of individuals that already have a sizeable amount of funds in various banking instruments.

For any cryptocurrency exchange or broker, especially those, security is an important consideration. As is traditional for any cryptocurrency exchange, Bank Frick has stated that it will store all of its customers’ cryptocurrency assets in cold wallets, or rather, on computers air-gapped from the internet for the most part. Other security features, however, were not detailed in the press release.

The financial institution in question is already a fully-regulated bank that complies with all know-your-customer related laws at the country and EU level. Thus, it is safe to conclude that the same identification requirements will be carried over for any investor looking to purchase any amount of cryptocurrency from Bank Frick.

The bank also confirms regulatory compliance in its statement,

“At Bank Frick, cryptocurrency investments are subject to the same strict statutory measures as traditional financial transactions,” and “Clients can only invest in cryptocurrencies once they have been fully identified and verified. The verification and identification process also involves checking the origin of the money used to invest in them.”

Even though Bank Frick is a financial institution that primarily caters to Liechtenstein citizens, it has announced that the platform will be available to any European entity interested in it. The Chief Client Officer, Huber Büchel, said,

“Our services are in demand from companies across the whole of Europe. This is because they know that we can offer them reliable support in implementing their business models with cryptocurrencies and blockchains in line with the existing regulatory framework.”

Furthermore, the bank has announced that it will be accepting foreign currencies in exchange for cryptocurrency assets. At this time, investors can transact in US Dollars, Euros or Swiss Francs.

Bank Frick joins a rather exclusive list of banks willing to not only adopt, but also facilitate the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies. With most financial institutions around the world heading in the exact opposite direction, it is clear that Liechtenstein’s banks have other intentions.

Could Ripple, Bitcoin and Ethereum return to previous high?

CRYPTOCURRENCIES such as Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum are all in the green today after a turbulent start to the year. But could all three top tokens return to their previous record highs? Here are the latest price predictions.

Bitcoin had a good weekend after a poor start to 2018, dropping to under $6,000 at the start of February.

As of Marsh 17, CryptoCoinHubs  highlights a peak up to $8,150  at the time of writing.

Ethereum is up at $600  with Ripple  at $0,66. While LiteCoin , a Litecoin is currently worth $160

The rises come after a damaging month for cryptocurrencies as a whole. After peaking at about $834billion on January 7, the market plunged an eye-watering 66 percent, wiping out some $553billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

But with Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum all back in the green today, many crypto experts are confident that the market can reach new heights this year.

Could Ripple, Bitcoin and Ethereum return to previous high?

Thomas Glucksmann of GateCoin told CNBC: “Increasing regulatory recognition of cryptocurrency exchanges, the entrance of institutional capital and major technology developments will contribute to the market’s rebound and push cryptocurrency prices to all new highs this year.”

He added bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, could be “pushing $50,000 by December”.

Jamie Burke, CEO at Outlier Ventures, is bullish about the cryptocurrency market, insisting it has the potential to reach $1trillion.

He told CNBC: “We believe after February the market will likely go on a bull run comparative if not greater than last year potentially reaching the trillion-dollar mark before a proper crypto winter sets in where the market becomes more focused on proper market fundamentals.”

And Panos Mourdoukoutas, writing for Forbes, suggested that after “ being in a deep correction for a few weeks, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin have been coming back nicely over the last week, gaining 19.87%, 10.48%, 30.57%, and 53.90% respectively”.

He added the crypto turnaround after the recent crash comes as equity markets rebounded from the sell-off early in the month.

And he also wrote the cryptocurrency “technicals” remain strong, saying “83 cryptocurrencies [are] advancing and only 17 declining among the top 100 listed currencies.”

Dennis de Jong, managing director of UFX, says he believes cryptocurrencies remain strong and will not plummet for good in 2018.

He told Express.co.uk: “It may not capture the headlines like the volatility of bitcoin has in recent months, but there have been considerable advances in the underlying technology of the blockchain.

“Many industries are already live with, or in the process of testing, blockchain use cases that have potentially huge knock-ons for data management and security advancements.

“The relationship between crypto usage and investment in the space underpins bitcoin’s value to an extent, and for this reason I can’t see it going anywhere soon.”

But as central banks attempt to kickstart regulation – Citibank India being the latest financial authority this week to ban cryptocurrency payments on debit or credit card – some investors believe the market slump could be an indicator of an overall crash in all financial markets.

Bleakley Financial Group CIO Peter Boockvar said: “If bitcoin resumes its decline here, I think that equity investors should pay attention.”

Belarus Wants to Run a Global Crypto Hub

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who’s labored for years under the title of Europe’s last dictator, is making a bid for a shiny new image as the continent’s freewheeling cryptocurrency king.

 Lukashenko, who’s ruled the former communist republic that’s wedged between Poland and Russia since 1994, signed a decree on Friday offering tax breaks and legal incentives for dealing in digital currencies in an effort to turn Belarus into an international tech haven.
 “Belarus will become the first government in the world that opens wide opportunities for the use of blockchain technology,” Lukashenko said in a statement in his website. “We have every chance of becoming a regional center in this area.”
 The decree legalizes business based on blockchain — the technology underlying cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin — and all digital “tokens,” as Belarus seeks to become a global crypto coin hub for raising funds via so-called initial coin offerings, or ICOs. Revenue and profit from all operations using digital tokens will be exempt from taxes until 2023, while there’ll be measures to simplify the flow of venture capital between Belarus and other countries, according to a summary of the decree published by Viktor Prokopenya, one of the businessmen lobbying for the legislation

Belarus is seeking to capitalize on a thriving tech industry that’s grown up there in recent years as young programmers have created products that appeal far beyond the borders of the former Soviet republic. The phone messaging application Viber was developed in Belarus as were the NYSE-listed offshore programming company EPAM Systems Inc. and the popular online gaming service World of Tanks, which made founder Victor Kislyi the country’s first billionaire.

Sandbox Haven

Even as Alphabet Inc., owner of Google, and Facebook Inc. snapped up Belarus-made startups, the country’s restrictive business environment made it all but impossible for venture capital to flow freely into promising ideas. Lukashenko’s new law may change that.

Belarus plans to cloak its repressive reputation with a “sandbox” — the creation of a legal tech enclave where companies working with digital currencies will pay no taxes and rely on some elements of English law in commercial matters, a radical innovation for a country whose security service is still called the KGB.

The sandbox would be set up within the so-called Hi-Tech Park, which the authorities opened in 2005 near the capital, Minsk, to try to spur innovation. Today, most of the park’s  residents are offshore software companies taking advantage of cheap and skilled local programmers as well as reduced taxes to serve foreign clients.

’Tech Nation’

Lukashenko said this month that his goal in signing the decree is to make Belarus a “tech nation.” The country’s major technology companies lobbied for the legal changes, which also gained support among government officials and in the central bank.

The novelty of the proposed law is that Belarus would provide legal clarity for dealing in digital currencies which is yet unseen in other countries, said Denis Aleinikov, whose law firm Aleinikov and Partners helped to draft the decree. It also establishes a direct legal link between issuers of tokens and their obligations toward the holders.

To protect against fraudsters, the regulation would set capital requirements for operators of cryptocurrency exchanges. It would also introduce “smart contracts” in Belarus — self-executable computer-coded applications that serve as an alternative to traditional paper agreements.

“The decree has been written exactly the way our tech community wanted it,” Vsevolod Yanchevsky, head of Hi-Tech Park, said in an interview in Minsk. “Belarus will be one of the best jurisdictions in the world for cryptocurrencies and blockchain.”