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OKEx: Banking the Unbanked

If you are reading this, you likely have access to a list of globalizing technologies and services such as a bank account, a smartphone, and higher education. In turn, with such technology and services at your disposal, you have likely achieved things many global citizens dream about. With your bank account and smartphone, think of everything you can do. You probably have the ability to invest, conduct research, and various other actions relevant to securing your future. A sharp reality, though, is that billions of people are without the many luxuries you and I share.

As of today, roughly 2.6 billion people, or 36 percent of the global population, are unbanked; 69 percent of the global population, or 5 million people, do not have access to a smartphone; and 1.2 billion people, or 16 percent of the global population, are without a verified identity. Believe it or not, these people, the ones who lack the many resources we take for granted, have a direct impact on you. Since they are unable to participate in banking and other systems important to stimulating the global economy, the world is unable to reach its full economic potential.

Furthermore, because the unbanked and unidentified are unable to fully achieve financial stability, other entities, typically humanitarian groups and governmental agencies, which are typically backed by tax dollars and donations, must come to their aid. Thus, if we could resolve these issues, we could stimulate the global economy, subsequently driving trillions of dollars into the world and, most importantly, enlighten the lives of billions of people.

Tremendous support to eradicate the addressed inequalities is apparent across democratic nations. Agencies and technologies are constantly developed, adopted, improved, and implemented to better suit the billions of sufferers each day. But one groundbreaking system that may truly improve the world as we know it, a project that may make the unbanked banked as well as generate an identity for each of the 1.2 billion people without one.

We have sought avenues ourselves to combat the prevalent crisis of the unbanked. Recently, we came across an article, How could blockchain support the unbanked?, by Okex, discussing its aim to eliminate the frequency of the unbanked, globally, through a decentralized finance system (DeFi), which includes stablecoins, wallets, lending and more.

The article resonates with us, and is the purpose for which we wish to share it with you all here, on our platform: https://medium.com/okex-blog/okex-defining-blockchain-and-redefining-finance-adcc4fafbc2c

20:08 18.10.19

Is #DeFi Blockchain’s Killer dApp?

Over the years, talk about what blockchain’s best use case is has turned from gaming to cloud computing, and over toward more obscure possibilities.

As time goes by, however, it’s become apparent that money is what blockchain does best, especially when that money, and the way it’s invested, is decentralized. #DeFi, short for decentralized finance, has emerged as blockchain’s leading use case, but that should come as no surprise.

Examples of decentralized finance have abounded for years, but what has been missing all along was the short and sweet hashtag reference. Decentralized exchanges, projects like OmiseGo, and platforms such as Cardano all contribute to the overarching spread of #DeFi.

The significant difference now, as compared to a year or two ago, is that the #DeFi ecosystem is much more clearly defined. A large part of that definition results from the decentralized loan space being spearheaded by projects like Compound, MakerDAO, and Dharma.

Some centralized players are bringing light to the space too. Nexo, Genesis Capital, and Celsius Network are raking in big bucks doing the crypto lending thing, which, though not decentralized, locks more value into the crypto-financial ecosystem.

While crypto loans have been the linchpin of #DeFi up to now, we’re witnessing the broadening beginning of what feels like a true financial renaissance. Yesterday, MyCrypto.com reported a new milestone reached with 2.2 million ETH locked into the #DeFi space. At current ETH prices, that’s just shy of $400 million secured into decentralized lending and derivatives dApps.

Market Update

No big changes since our last report, with Bitcoin (along with other major blue chip assets) remaining range-bound.

After BTC/USD swept range highs a few days ago and gave the market a moment to dream, it’s now appearing weighed down and headed back for range lows based on the 4hr.

The good news is that alts vs. BTC seem to be enjoying the subtle swinging, as is evidenced by their slow climb against crypto’s leading asset. We’re leaving room in our short-term outlook for BTC to surprise us by moving bullishly, in which case we’d look to reduce our altcoin exposure.

15:03 17.10.19

BTC Market Update: Two Scenarios in Play

The sheer turbulence of the cryptocurrency market these days has sidelined all but the most adventurous traders. As far as rollercoasters go, this one has been pretty thrilling, a little scary, and entirely unpredictable.

An easy way to gauge just how few traders have a sense of direction in these tumultuous times is to read a Crypto Twitter feed. The more posts you see about meta-crypto topics, things Binance is doing, or dogs, the deeper in a bear cycle the market is.

That’s alright, though. We’ve said this before, and so have many others, but it’s always worth repeating: Markets move in cycles. In our humble opinion, the rocket is refueling. But, if you’re the one strapped in the rocket and waiting for launch, it’s easy to become impatient with the process you’re unable to see.

Rockets aside, BTC is currently cooling at $8,267 – a far cry from $10K. Crypto’s #1 is throwing mixed signals into the air. Both weekly and 2W timeframes displayed clear weakness by closing below HTF demand OB EQ at $8,259.80.

Additionally, there is an olympic-size pool of demand resting below us from $7,400 to $6,650. That roughly translates as traders not wanting to hop in this ambiguous $8K price zone that looks ready to break down. The logic is – BTC seems weak, it dropped like a rock from $10K, so, why buy here instead of lower?

We do, however, see a potential bearish retest of ~$8,890 in the cards and an area of interest to short. On the other hand, if we arrive at $8,890 and decisively sail past it without so much as a coffee break, then we’d look to buy on a retest and target ~$9,800.

To summarize, the situation is basically this: We aren’t doing anything here. Prices may break down again like they did last week. If they do, you’ll be happy you saved your ammo for the lows. Watch for a move toward $9K, and if it happens neatly on decisive volume and good vibes, then we’ll join the party.

14:02 03.10.19

Cryptocurrency Market Stalls As Horizon Fades

The cryptocurrency market appears to have stalled out in the wake of several fundamentals that failed to deliver. Bakkt’s weak BTC futures debut and the withdrawal of VanEck SolidX’s ETF proposal both adversely affected the market, and today’s slump is a direct result.

Investors and traders look to impending fundamental factors as price drivers. In their absence, traders only have charts upon which to rely, and it goes without saying that BTC’s chart hasn’t painted the prettiest picture in recent weeks.

Additionally, the BTC hash rate flash crash didn’t do anything to assuage investor concerns that the Bitcoin network is both secure and stable. At the time of writing, BTC appears to have stabilized (for the moment) above $8,200.

Without any fundamental price drivers in the immediate horizon, the next milestone to look to is the May 2020 halving. Currently, it appears that all of Crypto Twitter is expected a drop to the $6K range, if not lower. While there is, without a doubt, every possibility a sizable decline will occur, we’re not entirely sold.

The BTC halving is approaching, and quickly. Getting in position to take advantage of the presumed price run leading to BTC’s quadrennial event will be the modus operandi of every intelligent trader in the market.

Given that, we won’t be surprised to see BTC find a price floor above the catastrophic lows being predicted.

Will quantum computing break crypto?

A requisite ability in any cryptocurrency investor’s skillset is that of reading seemingly disconnected events for the ways they may be relevant now, or in the future. Case in point – today, Google reached its “quantum supremacy” milestone, meaning the company’s rudimentary quantum computer outperformed a traditional one.

In a nutshell, quantum computers can easily run through impossibly sophisticated computations in the blink of an eye. Whereas a cluster of some of today’s best computers may take months, to complete a complex calculation, quantum computers will do them in seconds.

What has that got to do with crypto?

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the rest are cryptographically encrypted digital assets. Their security is guaranteed by the difficult calculations required to append transactions to the blockchain (via mining). However, a quantum computer, in theory, can easily power through the calculations which cryptographically secure digital assets today. In essence, quantum computers can potentially break blockchains.

In response, blockchain architects are generally doing one of two things:

1. Researching and deploying quantum-resistant cryptography as quickly as possible.

2. Deploying quantum-based blockchains which play nice with their computer counterparts. This prospect has been thoroughly researched https://arxiv.org/pdf/1804.05979.pdf, but can’t be undertaken until quantum computing is established, stable, and well understood.

Concerns over how the rise of quantum computing may affect Bitcoin are well-founded but early. Google and IBM have both progressed much faster than anticipated, though their prototypes have a very long way to go before posing a threat to Bitcoin or blockchain generally.

Technologies also grow in tandem. As progress is made in the quantum computing arena, there will be trickle-down and cross pollination to other sectors – like blockchain.

Back in 2013, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin tried to get funding to build a quantum computer himself. More recently, he suggested quantum-resistant Lamport Signatures as a way to future proof blockchains. For additional reading on the subject, we suggest the following research paper titled “Bitcoin and Quantum Computing” – https://arxiv.org/pdf/1711.04235.pdf.

18:06 01.10.19

Some machines can perform with no degradation to speed, while older machines must drop performance by ~30% to achieve the same results.”

The Takeaway

Three significant factors colluded to cloud the cryptocurrency market with a gloomy outlook.

VanEck SolidX’s ETF withdrawal, a sudden hash rate crash, and Bakkt’s weak debut happened in nearly perfect unison, giving a sideways BTC the motives needed to break down.

At this point, we’re watching and waiting for the carnage to slow before freshly assessing the charts.

23:11 27.09.19

Bitcoin Breaks Down

After weeks of indecision and what appeared to be a strong argument for $10K BTC, bear pressure finally broke through the lines and took Bitcoin down hard.

The carnage on the charts wasn’t limited to BTC, however, as all the majors (ETH, XRP, EOS, XLM) took hits in the double-digits. The surprising and impossible to predict turn of events led to the crypto market looking more like a smoldering crater than an asset class with a bright future.

Currently, BTC is trading hands a shade over $8.1k while a select few majors, like XRP and ETH, appear poised to recover some of their losses.

Bitcoin shed nearly $2,000 in value before the market had time to blink, leading market observers to seek answers.

A flash crash of this magnitude hasn’t been seen in months. Given the relative stability of crypto’s leading digital asset across recent weeks, suspecting the involvement of concomitant factors is certainly warranted.

While this week’s losses appear insufferable, they’re only the third-worst of the year. What we’re implying here is that on two other occasions in 2019, Bitcoin has taken a massive beating and recovered.

Let’s take a look at what contributed to the market wreck this week.

Bakkt Flops

There are a million ways to spin the Bakkt debut, but here is the reality. Bakkt flopped. Perhaps belly-flopped is more accurate here. What was a hotly anticipated date – Bakkt’s physically settled BTC futures debut – turned into a dud.

It was kind of like finally lighting your favorite firework, watching the flame move down the fuse with indescribable excitement, then feeling speechless disappointment when the firework fails to go off.

In its first 24-hours, Bakkt settled a mere 78 BTC futures which, ironically, settled October 2019 futures at below $10K.

The immediate market takeaway from the hollow debut wasn’t too difficult to guess – big financial institutions aren’t all that interest in BTC.

Or are they?

We’re more inclined to think that the situation is a more simple than it seems. Institutions who are ready in the here and now to buy BTC can already do so using OTC exchanges. At this early stage in the crypto game, an institution willing to buy now is already adventurous and probably doesn’t need the Bakkt onramp.

We’re not saying Bakkt is pointless, though. What the flop debut reveals is that even though mainstream institutions aren’t breaking down Bakkt’s door yet, they might do so down the line when BTC adoption and consciousness finds real legs.

As a piece of infrastructure, Bakkt is incredibly important for crypto.

The only thing is, it might be slightly ahead of its time.

BTC Hash Rate Crash

This is a quickly developing story that is still sans deep details, but here’s what we know.

On September 23, the Bitcoin network hash rate plummeted 40% in what was one of the largest intraday hash rate drops in network history.

The reasons behind the strange crash are still shrouded in mystery.

A high hash rate means miner competition to validate blocks is healthy, which in turn makes the network more competitive and, thus, secure. An increasing hash rate is viewed as bullish, while the opposite is viewed as, well, bearish.

Some have speculated that the hash rate crash was caused by a firmware upgrade to account for the network’s incoming difficulty increase. Jeff Brandt, a user posting to CoinTelegraph’s comments section, described his view of the situation:

“The explanation is simple. The next diff increase in 2 days will push previous gen S9’s (roughly 50% of the network) below profitability.

Last week an unrestricted firmware for S9’s was posted and every large farm operator is working at a feverish pace to get approximately 3 million machines updated.

The new firmware has optimizations that squeeze the very last bit of efficiency out of the S9 lowering the watts/thash-sec from 96W to ~80W.

23:11 27.09.19

Which Way Is Up?

Bravado Crew,

Kind of a crazy week in crypto world, right? What’s the altcoin trading cheat sheet say? Something like:

1. Bitcoin goes up, altcoins dump
2. Bitcoin goes down, altcoins dump
3. Bitcoin stays flat, altcoins pump

This week seemed to give that meme a bit of merit – that is, until the past couple of days. Since then, alts have been in a bit of a consolidation phase. However, with Ethereum still looking primed for a move up into the $235 region, we’re looking to the rest of the market to jump up again as well.

ETH kicked this move off from $188 and topped out at just under $225. The whole thing took just under five days. During that time, a downward taper paired with a sharp move up perfectly showcased keen buyer interest showing up for the world’s number two digital asset.
Since then, ETH bulls haven’t let prices slink much lower, despite the relative weakness of BTC since the VanEck SolidX ETF withdrawal.

Nonetheless, we’ve positioned ourselves to profit should ETH do another leg up – something which, from our view, could happen.

Asia-Based Crypto Exchanges Delisting Privacy Coins

In a concern-inducing move, Upbit, a top-drawer South Korean crypto exchange, pulled any and all digital assets with privacy features. Dash, Monero, Zcash, and smaller coins like Haven all had their Upbit privileges revoked.

The move mirrors a similar one made by OKEx which, in its turn, had followed Coinbase UK’s lead when it delisted Zcash. Privacy coin owners and supporters are understandably upset by the growing trend amongst regulated exchanges to delist anonymity-supporting assets.

At the crux of the issue are regulators who believe such tokens are antithetical to KYC and AML laws. That’s the public reason, anyway. We should know that governments also just don’t want to be left in the dark when it comes to who owns what.

Going forward, regulators want to devise a way to track and trace every transaction back to an identifiable owner. Monero doesn’t let them do that, so any exchange hoping to stay on the right side of regulators will have to give it the ax. Sad but true.

We’ll keep you updated as this timely issue evolves.

18:06 24.09.19