Throwaway account as I'm still dealing with this. submitted by
Background: I saw an opportunity for arbitrage between Coinbase (buy) and LBC (sell) in late 2018. From memory I think I bought about 2-3k worth (GBP) and sold in small batches (to ID and phone verified LBC customers).
I first knew something was wrong as I couldn't log in to my Barclays mobile app, it provided a code and I called customer service who wanted to discuss a transaction.
I was 100% honest and sent correspondence and statements. About a week later I receive a notice telling me to take everything out of my account (had the account since childhood) and find a new bank. This was stressful enough and I lodged a complaint with Barclays, that was not upheld, then asked the Financial Ombudsman Service to step in and help me. Turns out that one of the transactions for less than £200 was reversed by the buyer, so Barclays took this money from my account, and returned it to the account holder.
Fast forward nearly a year and I've forgotten about this ordeal. I'm a bit in my overdraft but as my credit is pristine I apply for a small unsecured loan (it makes sense as will be paying less interest) 95% probability I'd get the loan according to the comparison website.
I'm turned down. They refer me to CIFAS, the UK fraud prevention agency. This happens once more as the first time I just assumed I was just unlucky.
I put in a 'subject access request' to CIFAS and request all info they have on me. About a week later I receive a letter.
Category 6 Fraud Warning - First party fraud - false instruments paid in.
This blew my mind. I had no idea that Barclays viewed the selling of BTC so seriously. The irony is that Barclays are the bank you must deposit money in to buy BTC in the UK, but when I sell my BTC they close my account and ruin me financially. This is now being looked into by the FOS and as of last week I've placed a complaint under the EUs GDPR (under accuracy mainly as I cannot challenge Barclays' decision).
TLDR - sold small amount of Btc on local bitcoins, Barclays bank closed my account, accused me of fraud and now I can't get a mortgage, loan, mobile phone, overdraft or any other item of credit for another 5 years.
Thought I would share this chat I had with James Lovejoy last night. Super generous of him to provide this much access and time answering questions. I was already a HODL'er, but this solidified it.
beerfinger [1:28 AM] Just read through the entire rebranding thread in the Vertcoin subreddit. Earlier today I also watched some of Crypto Hedge's interview of James Lovejoy from last August on YouTube. I understand both sides of the rebranding argument and have tried to play devil's advocate. Right now I do believe that the argument against rebranding is stronger. Full disclosure: I've worked in marketing/advertising my whole career and just recently got into cryptos. With that said, there are two questions that keeps nagging on me:
[1:28] 1. this coin has been around since 2014, so nearly 4 years. James seems like an incredibly smart and capable chap, but I'm just going to go ahead and assume the he hasn't always been the Lead Dev while he was in high school. Presumably there was someone before him and, after he graduates and moves on to whatever it is he's going to do with his life, there will be someone after him. Yes? So, with all due respect to James, as an investor in VTC, what assurances are there that this isn't merely an interesting side-project for a brilliant MIT student with little interest/incentive in its value as an investment portfolio? If the value of this coin to James is that of a college project, that is something I as an investor would like to know.
jamesl22 [1:32 AM] Hey!
[1:33] I've been the lead dev since Nov 2014
[1:33] (while I was in high school)
[1:33] And I've kept at it through college, I certainly don't intend to go anywhere
[1:33] Plus, there are more who work on this project that just me
beerfinger [1:33 AM] 2. I've read complaints about Vertcoin from people who poopoo its usefulness. Decrying it as "just another coin trying to be Bitcoin with not much differentiating it." People don't seem to view the ASIC thing as a big enough differentiator to make VTC stand out. There seems to be a kernel of truth to that as part of the argument against rebranding seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that it should not occur until a major change in the development is launched. So my question again stems back to James' motivations and incentives here. Is this a convenient use case for some college thesis? Or is the team really working on coming up with a major change in development?
[1:34] hey James! wow, thanks so much for your quick response
[1:34] great to actually communicate with you. and I stand corrected. very impressive that you started on this so young. I can see why MIT accepted you :slightly_smiling_face:
[1:36] my questions still stand though: I'm not trying to insult you so I hope you don't take it that way, but as someone who considers VTC part of my investment portfolio, I am very curious to hear about your incentives. You clearly have noble intentions. But what is your ultimate goal? What's the end game? Is it the same as Satoshi's was? (assuming he was really one person who existed)
[1:37] Or is there something else?
jamesl22 [1:37 AM] I think it's the same as Satoshi's
[1:37] To recreate the financial system in a fairer, more distributed way
[1:37] My research at MIT is totally separate to my work on VTC, though the two are complimentary (both are in cryptocurrency)
[1:38] In my ideal world everyone runs a VTC miner and full node in their home, banks become narrow banks and clearing houses/stock exchanges are a thing of the past
[1:39] The rewards of the financial system (in the form of transaction fees) will be distributed to the people, rather than siphoned off by banks or ASIC manufacturers as happens now (edited)
goodminer [1:40 AM] :thumbsup:
beerfinger [1:40 AM] I see. That is compelling. So, being that's the case, that sounds to me like something worthy of a brand, no?
[1:41] Unless you think there are other coins on the market with the same goals. In which case, what will differentiate VTC?
jamesl22 [1:42 AM] I don't think there are any on the market with as strong of an ideology as us
[1:42] Or any that can demonstrate that it follows through on its commitments
[1:42] The way I see it, VTC went from being worth $0.01 last year to 100x that now
[1:43] I don't see how a rebrand can possible accelerate already parabolic growth
[1:43] Bear in mind, that until a few months ago we had 0 marketing, that is where our focus should be now
beerfinger [1:44 AM] Fair. I'm curious, what do you think it SHOULD be worth?
[1:44] I mean right now, at this moment.
jamesl22 [1:44 AM] I don't think I should say, the SEC might be watching us
beerfinger [1:44 AM] Not in the future.
[1:44] Can you say if you feel it is undervalued?
[1:44] or overvalued
jamesl22 [1:45 AM] I will say with confidence that 95% of the top 100 is severely overvalued
beerfinger [1:45 AM] coins you mean
jamesl22 [1:45 AM] Yes
[1:45] On coinmarketcap
[1:45] If you visit most of their websites, there is no code at all
[1:45] Yet it's worth many times what VTC is worth
[1:46] Where VTC has been established for nearly 4 years, bug free and features well demonstrated
[1:46] VTC also had LN and SegWit on main net before LTC or BTC (edited)
beerfinger [1:46 AM] Yes I mean your statement doesn't surprise me. It's a nacent market. Lots of snake oil, clearly.
[1:47] I guess to steer this back towards the branding/marketing of your coin though, you clearly feel strongly about it and have a clear vision. Do you feel that as it stands the branding conveys that sentiment?
jamesl22 [1:47 AM] When you say branding, I assume you mean "vertcoin" and the logo?
beerfinger [1:48 AM] yes. logo, color scheme, etc...
[1:48] name even
[1:49] also to clarify one point, when I say that you clearly feel strongly about it, the "it" refers to your coin (not the marketing of it)
jamesl22 [1:49 AM] I think it's largely arbitrary
beerfinger [1:49 AM] why is that
jamesl22 [1:49 AM] Most coin names have no meaning whatsoever
[1:49] Google, the largest tech company in the world has a silly name
[1:50] Litecoin (whose name ought to imply it has fewer features) is #4
beerfinger [1:51 AM] I wouldn't underestimate the amount of strategy that went into branding Google (and continues to this day)
jamesl22 [1:51 AM] What's most important is the pitch, how can you convince someone who knows nothing about the technicals behind cryptocurrency, that ASIC resistance and decentralisation is important?
[1:51] Yes, but the original branding was arbitrary and haphazard
[1:52] Yet the technology spoke for itself
[1:52] Now it's in the dictionary
[1:53] Spending lots of time and money on a new name/logo, trying to get community consensus on that and then redesigning the website/subreddit/wallets/other services to reflect the changes is not where I think we should focus our small resources
[1:54] My goal over the next year or two is to take VTC from speculative value to real-world value
[1:54] So point of sale, ease of use, that's the focus now
[1:55] I aim to over time provide complete solutions for merchants to implement VTC at point of sale, for laymen to set up nodes and miners in their homes
[1:55] As well as potentially enterprise support if we get big enough
beerfinger [1:55 AM] It sounds like this is your intended career path then, yes?
jamesl22 [1:55 AM] In some shape or form, yes
beerfinger [1:55 AM] Wonderful
[1:55] When do you graduate, James?
[1:55] If you don't mind me asking
slackbot Custom Response [1:55 AM] I AM talking to you aren't I !
jamesl22 [1:56 AM] Charlie Lee worked at Coinbase for several years before returning to LTC a month or two ago
beerfinger [1:56 AM] So you're a Sophomore? Or are you in graduate school?
jamesl22 [1:57 AM] Junior
chuymgzz [1:58 AM] @beerfinger can you imagine when people first heard the word "dollar" like WTF is a dollar where did it actually came from. It actually comes from Czech joachimsthaler, which became shortened in common usage to thaler or taler. Don't pay much attention to the name Vertcoin, just take a look at the tech. If you buy into this coin's ideology, you will actually start to like the name.
jin [1:58 AM] Hey guys :slightly_smiling_face:
[1:59] @chuymgzz but not everyone looks purely at the tech, if we look at the top 100 coins, you would know whats going on :stuck_out_tongue:
beerfinger [1:59 AM] Cool well thanks for indulging me, James. I really appreciate it. Hopefully this conversation continues in the future. While your probably right that right now is probably not the right time, that doesn't mean at some point in the future it won't be. In the meantime, I'll take comfort in the knowledge that I've invested in a worthy cause.
chuymgzz [1:59 AM] Longer term only the functional ones and the ones that deliver will survive and a whole ecosystem will be built around it
jin [1:59 AM] buzz and hype is unfortunately a large part of it
beerfinger [2:00 AM] *you're
jin [2:00 AM] that is true, but without marketing to draw in attention (which leads to usage and so on etc) it will be difficult for a functional one to survive even
beerfinger [2:07 AM] @james122 One more thing: how do you feel about regulation? Pro or con? Do you feel that the idea of nation states like the US and China (ergo the ICO ban) taking it upon themselves to place restrictions on the market to try and make them safer is anathema to the idea of decentralization? Are you a full on libertarian in that respect? Or do you welcome regulation because it'll separate the wheat from the chaff?
jamesl22 [2:07 AM] I think we need a sane amount of regulation
[2:08] ICOs are clearly illegal imo
[2:08] Unless they are performed under the same rules as an IPO
[2:09] Plus I don't want to create a safe harbour for child pornographers, people traffickers and terrorists to store their money
[2:09] However I do think the state has no right to spy on you without a warrant (edited)
beerfinger [2:09 AM] You mean you don't want to be Monero? :slightly_smiling_face:
jamesl22 [2:09 AM] No
[2:10] I will pursue privacy features that make the pseudoanonymity provided by the blockchain easier for people to use effectively
[2:11] That way, it is not obvious to anyone your holdings or transactions publicly (edited)
[2:11] But things like sting operations would still be theoretically possible
beerfinger [2:13 AM] Love it. I still feel the branding thing will need to be revisited at some point. I don't know what that means, exactly. Whether its as small as a font change to something bigger like a new color scheme, logo or even name, I'm not sure of. The ideology is strong, but as it stands Vertcoin doesn't have a clear differentiator in the market. I'm not sure that matters so much yet at this time, but it will.
[2:15] You clearly have a strong vision, I'm just not sure it's being communicated effectively yet. Hence, haters who say Vertcoin is just trying to be another Bitcoin.
workstation [2:15 AM] beerfinger might be a huge whale sniffing out Vertcoin before a huge loadup. Not that, that's a bad thing :stuck_out_tongue:
beerfinger [2:15 AM] haha... I wish
jamesl22 [2:16 AM] Vertcoin is
trying to be another Bitcoin lol
[2:16] It's picking up where Bitcoin left off
[2:16] If people want a decentralised cryptocurrency, they should use Vertcoin
[2:17] Bitcoin just isn't one anymore
[2:17] Neither is Litecoin (edited)
beerfinger [2:20 AM] Semantics really, but if that's the case then that means Vertcoin isn't trying to be another Bitcoin. Bitcoin is already Bitcoin, which is a coin that did not fulfill it's promises. Vertcoin, on the other hand, like you said picks up where Bitcoin left off. I'm not sure that's being communicated by the brand (yet). Doing so may have nothing to do with rebranding (unless rebranding generates a bigger social following who then helps you communicate that).
workstation [2:20 AM] You've continued on a great coin James and no doubt Vertcoin has great features vs other coins, however without widespread use and adoption, Vertcoin might just become another coin without much use. The marketing side is sometimes even more important than the development side. Just need to look at history for that. E.g. Early version of Windows was buggy, bluescreen of death plagued it. But with heaps of $$ and marketing, Windows is pretty rock solid these days.
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jamesl22 [2:22 AM] Yes, agreed to both statements
[2:22] We're working on it, but it takes time and money
[2:23] But really, adoption is pointless until point of sale works properly
[2:23] When you can get it into people's physical wallets, or phone and they can spend it in a store, that's when it takes off (edited)
[2:23] Walmart, Target, all the big retailers hate
Visa and Mastercard
workstation [2:24 AM] Thats a long way off... Even Apple and Samsung are struggling in that area
jamesl22 [2:24 AM] They would love a solution that opted them out of having to pay their fees
beerfinger [2:25 AM] @workstation To play devil's advocate for one sec, most successful people in the world don't achieve success because they tried to achieve success. Success is merely a byproduct of their passion. I do believe that James' commitment to the ideology can be sufficient. But it is true that the branding should communicate his vision. That is a constant conversation, too.
workstation [2:25 AM] yes, true
jamesl22 [2:26 AM] What we really need is talented content creators to make compelling media that explains the vision in a layman friendly way
[2:26] Thus far the message has been far too technical
[2:26] But in the past, the space was mostly populated by technical people so that is understandable
[2:26] It is only in the last 6 months that the general public has started to get involved
[2:27] Sadly "ASIC resistance" doesn't speak to them
beerfinger [2:27 AM] @james122 While it's true that universal adoption is key, you can say that about ANY coin. Even dogecoin would suddenly become a real coin if everyone up and decided to start using it one day. What's your strategy for making VTC that
jamesl22 [2:27 AM] Whereas I think taking power from banks, chinese miners and giving it back to the people can be far more compelling
workstation [2:27 AM] We take Visa and Mastercard at our stores. We only do it because it boosts sales. People these days are all borrowing on credit because they don't have enough.... Paying on their CC# lets them buy things now (instant gratification) and slowly pay later. They managed to get banks on board because they make so much money on the interest. There is a clear reason why those cards satisfy a demand. We get charged about 1.5% by VISA/MC. To be honest, it's not a real deal breaker.
beerfinger [2:27 AM] haha, well, james you're talking to the right guy :slightly_smiling_face:
[2:28] My career is content creation
[2:28] I have nearly 20 years producing commercials and (lately) social content for global brands
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beerfinger [2:29 AM] I would be happy to consult and provide any assistance I can
[2:29] "taking power from banks, chinese miners and giving it back to the people can be far more compelling" - that's your modus operandi
[2:29] you can definitely tell that story in a compelling way
[2:30] Question: have any crypto's ever created any sort of ad before? Even just for social content? (sorry, I'm new to this space)
jamesl22 [2:30 AM] Well we'd obviously be grateful for your assistance
[2:31] I'd imagine so, though I don't follow many other coins' social media very much
goodminer [2:31 AM] @beerfinger lets chat :smile: We've been working on a lot of initiatives over the last few weeks
jamesl22 [2:31 AM] @workstation 1.5% to a huge retailer is a large sum of money though
workstation [2:35 AM] I don't see any coin being widely used to be honest. They fluctuate way too much. Say a typical consumer whose after tax salary is $1000/week.. He buys groceries at the store for $1/Liter. This is simple maths for him, he knows it's going to cost $1 each week, inflation may make it rise to $1.10 next year, but he understands that. With coins, the price of his milk is too hard to calculate.
[2:37] Why would Bob switch to using coins, when Visa/MC give him so much more? He doesnt pay the processing fee (1.5%), he gets free credit (these days, banks will easily approve 10k credits). Why would he switch to Vertcoin?
jamesl22 [2:37 AM] @workstation, volatility is high because market volume is low
[2:38] I think it will take another financial crisis or two though before people start to abandon fractional reserve banking (edited)
workstation [2:42 AM] As long as bob gets his paycheck, he's not going to care what happens at the fed
jamesl22 [2:43 AM] Bob ain't gunna get his paycheck one day though
[2:44] Because the credit ponzi scheme economy will have collapsed
workstation [2:48 AM] yes, the fed can print whatever it wants out of thin air... But its backed by US tax payers to the tune of 2+ trillion/year with most banks adhering to loan capital requirements. E.g. they need a certain amount of money deposited before they can loan more money out. What is Bitcoin/alt coins backed by? Seems like its somewhat of a ponzi scheme now, with everyone piling in thinking it will go up forever. I get that BTC is backed by real energy usage/capital requirements to mine it (asic equipment, datacenters, etc), so its more "real" than $1 USD, but they both service a purpose.
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workstation [2:51 AM] but whats the end goal because it seems they all become ponzi schemes. The only true coin will be one that will not allow any fiats be converted to to coin.
[2:51] the only way to earn a coin, would be to mine it, wouldn't you think that that would be the truest coin?
[2:52] right now people are just moving wads of fiat money into coins/alt coins, thereby skewing everything.
beerfinger [2:54 AM] just jumping in here with one last comment before I go to sleep: money, whether we're talking salt, precious metals, fiat currency, or cryptos, is just something that we all agree to prescribe a value to. That being the case, how are you going to stop someone from trading that value for something they want? If someone wants to trade their cryptos for chickens, a latte, USD or anything else, they're going to do it. No point in trying to regulate what people spend their money on or how they do it. Seems the antithesis of the whole decentralization thing anyway
workstation [2:57 AM] true
aegisker [3:02 AM] I belive when crypto matures, has fast and easy payments solutions, volume will rise and price will be more stable. Current price is speculation due to news and new development. I dont belive that after 10 years we will be seeing such swings.
beerfinger [3:04 AM] sorry keep thinking of new stuff... @jamesl22 your point about POS is salient. What's your perspective on coins like TenX that try to address that with payment platforms and cards?
[3:05] is that what you mean? nuts & bolts, how would Vertcoin become a POS option?
aegisker [3:06 AM] How is usdt keeping its price around usd?
beerfinger [3:07 AM] don't they just keep up with USD inflation by making sure there's an equal amount of tokens to USD in the market at any given point?
jamesl22 [3:07 AM] Integration of LN and AS is key
[3:07] Then providing some hardware or software solution to integrate with payment processors
[3:07] I haven't looked at tenx
beerfinger [3:07 AM] so Vertcoin IS actively pursuing this then
[3:09] perhaps there's some way to leverage things like ApplePay
jamesl22 [3:09 AM] I doubt it
[3:09] ApplePay's design is fundamentally different
beerfinger [3:09 AM] I mean it doesn't have to be ApplePay itself. Can be a separate app
lucky [3:09 AM] Having bitcoin or altcoins tied to your debit card isn't unbelievable
jamesl22 [3:10 AM] Of course not
[3:10] But it is suboptimal
beerfinger [3:10 AM] yeah sort of kills the whole decentralization thing
lucky [3:10 AM] in fact if we are going the whole hog and saying fiat collapsed. You'd be silly to think the banks would standby and let crypto take over without them
beerfinger [3:10 AM] now we're relying on banks again
lucky [3:11 AM] At the first sign of crypto succeeding fiat. Banks will take over
[3:11] Because they can trade their fiat to coin
[3:11] Government too
aegisker [3:12 AM] Well, banks issues debt, whole market is built around debt. Crypto would take that away
[3:12] This will be hardest transition
jamesl22 [3:12 AM] If the crypto market ever gets to say $1tril, the banks will use their lobbyist army to squash it as best they can
lucky [3:13 AM] Is it not possible crypto gets immediately regulated into the banking system as soon as it passed fiat in some way
jamesl22 [3:13 AM] They don't care right now because the space is tiny compared to their own equity
lucky [3:13 AM] Yes exactly James
beerfinger [3:13 AM] i like the idea of leveraging NFC tech as a way to introduce crypto to POS purchases... everyone already has a smart phone so no need to reinvent the wheel... it's basically just an app
lucky [3:13 AM] If finance is going to change politics needs to too
[3:14] Nfc seems like the way. Yeag
[3:14] Lots of the android wallets leverage it
aegisker [3:14 AM] No need for nfc, nfc was kinda overhyped. Qr codes can work equally good
jamesl22 [3:14 AM] @beerfinger I think LN will allow us to achieve that
lucky [3:14 AM] Lol qr
[3:14] Who has ever scanned a qr....
jamesl22 [3:14 AM] We just need a hardware implementation for the reader
beerfinger [3:14 AM] sorry james, what's LN?
lucky [3:14 AM] Apple made sure qr never worked
jamesl22 [3:14 AM] Lightning Network
beerfinger [3:14 AM] ah
aegisker [3:15 AM] If u use your phone, why complicate with nfc, is there a security benefit?
beerfinger [3:15 AM] the infrastructure is there... most readers i come across these days are already NFC compliant
jamesl22 [3:15 AM] QR can work, but requires a high res display in the POS device
[3:15] Which would increase costs
[3:15] NFC is cheap af
lucky [3:16 AM] Yep. Qr is extremely requirement heavy
aegisker [3:16 AM] For example, pub: you get check with qr. U pay with your phone. Waiter sees on his computer that its payed.
lucky [3:16 AM] Look at Asia and south America
[3:16] Nobody can read qr
aegisker [3:17 AM] I europe all checks already have qrs for tax checking
lucky [3:17 AM] I work in global marketing. Qr is completely unadopted in the real world
[3:17] Yes in no public scenario qr is used
aegisker [3:17 AM] Where you from?
lucky [3:17 AM] Uk
[3:19] A decade in marketing I can tell you for sure Joe public doesn't scan qr codes
[3:19] James is right. We need an alternative hardware solution
[3:19] And I think I unique piece of tech in public would drive massive interest
aegisker [3:20 AM] In slovenia, croatia, austria(i tjink) there is law that all transactions in coffeeshops or shops(everything with fiat transaction) is sent to tax authority as soon as check is printed. U get qr code on your check, so you can check if tax s paid for your service. This is to prevent black markets and unauthorized sellers. Works pretty well. If you frequently scan qrs you can get some bonuses..
[3:21] Public got used to this pretty fast.
lucky [3:21 AM] So there's an incentive
aegisker [3:21 AM] So also you could print qr shop wallet addr.
lucky [3:21 AM] Kind of skews the ease of adoption stat we are looking for
aegisker [3:22 AM] Costz nothing
lucky [3:22 AM] Costs a smartphone with a quick camera
[3:22] How about in a dark club
beerfinger [3:23 AM] I came tonight with many questions about Vertcoin. Namely the incentives of the Devs and how it differentiated itself in the marketplace. All of those questions have been answered as best as I could have hoped. The only
thing left is figuring out a way to tell that story. @jamesl22, all of the things you've said tonight are reassuring and exciting. They provide great promise for the future of this coin and even more - your goals, if realized, are truly category shifting. This is such
a compelling story. TELL IT!
lucky [3:23 AM] Asking every transaction to require an in focus photo capability is insane, imo
aegisker [3:23 AM] uploaded and commented on this image: IMG_20170908_092307.jpg 1 Comment Thats how it looks
lucky [3:23 AM] We need something similar to a contactless debit card
[3:24] Good luck scanning that in the dark with a £100 smartphone. Though.
aegisker [3:24 AM] For starters this is easiest solution for early adoption (edited)
workstation [3:25 AM] why not something short like vCoin. Then u could make it go off V=Vendetta, sort of has a nice mystery, anti establishment
aegisker [3:25 AM] You just need plugin for your pos software that checks your crypto wallet for received funds
[3:26] Imo this is easiest way to implement first public purchases of beer or coffee
beerfinger [3:26 AM] by the way, less is more when it comes to branding
[3:26] look at apple
[3:26] i love this example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUXnJraKM3k
YouTube Brant Walsh Microsoft Re-Designs the iPod Packaging
[3:31] and there's always something to be said for ad wars... apple's david vs goliath attack ads vs microsoft is what put them back on the map
[3:31] that could be a great angle for Vertcoin... go after Bitcoin
[3:31] make fun of it the way Jobs poked at Gates
[3:32] that's just my 2 Vertcoins
2017 is the year of blockchain and cryptocurrency. The movement might have begun in 2009, with the launch of Bitcoin, but it takes time for anything to gain momentum, and in this case, it seems that eight is the golden number. In a year that has seen Bitcoin reach a massive high – US$10,000
as of 28/11/17 – Ethereum
making gains in the thousands of percents, and ICOs
appearing at an incredible rate of knots, crypto investing has finally reached its maturity, and it is eating the World, one asset at a time. Some people say that this is a worrying thing; others that you can’t – and shouldn’t try to – halt progress and that this is the future in the making. Whichever turns out to be the case, crypto and blockchain are here and you can no longer ignore them. Blockchain and Bitcoin – The Chicken and the Egg
In 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto grew tired of the awkward process and sometimes lengthy delays involved in transacting digital payments. He wanted a system that could be instant, regardless of where you were in the world and the currency that your country used. No exchange rates to work out, no international transfer fees; his would be a universal currency for the tech community. And thus, Bitcoin was born.
You can’t just create a packet of data and say, ‘here you go, have this instead of cash’, however. What’s to stop other people from doing the same and endlessly copying and recreating your data packets until they’re so numerous that they have no value at all? No, the new digital currency needed an encryption system which ensured that no two data packets – or Bitcoins – could be the same, or be copied. And that’s where blockchain came in.
A digitised, decentralised, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions, blockchain is a continuously growing list of records – blocks – securely interconnected using cryptography; the closest you’ll get to an unbreakable code. Although it is now used in other areas of business, it was originally developed and is still used primarily for verifying crypto transactions. Without blockchain there would be no Bitcoin, but without Bitcoin there would be no blockchain, and without either there would be no other cryptocurrencies. From Evolution to Revolution
With the exception of a few long-sighted investors, who took a punt on the fact that Nakamoto was actually a bit of a genius, it took some time for Bitcoin to become established, and it wasn’t until 2011 that the currency’s open source was used to create a crypto competitor. Since that time, we’ve not just seen the creation of literally countless new cryptocurrencies – the current estimate is in excess of 1,300
, but no one really knows the exact figure for certain – but countless variations on the cryptocurrency theme.
Many currencies have taken the Bitcoin model and tweaked it; Litecoin, for example, is kind of like Bitcoin’s younger, faster, less-popular sibling. However, others have branched out, finding new USPs and creating their own ecosystems. Monero and Zcash have created enhanced privacy protocols, which allow for the anonymous buying, selling and using of the currencies. Ripple’s focus is transaction utility and the improvement of international purchasing. Ethereum’s progression has been towards the technical aspects of blockchain development, such as decentralised applications and smart contracts. Each new development is aimed at a slightly different market and offers a slightly different proposition for buyers, users, businesses, and investors, and it is this that has opened people's eyes to the potential of crypto assets. This is the reason for the sudden surge in the adoption of cryptocurrencies by businesses and the increase in ICOs. And it's all of these developments working in concert that has led to the recent and rapid increases in value that have occurred across the crypto frontier – what is becoming known as the Crypto Revolution. Progress in the Making
A revolution as defined by WordWeb is ‘a drastic and far-reaching change in the ways of thinking and behaving’. While cryptocurrencies are certainly something new in the history of finance, what will cause the revolution is the ways in which we use them. Bitcoins are now accepted by many online retail outlets, and have even found their way onto the high street. Litecoin is some way behind, but making similar forays into the real world. And companies – including Fast Invest – are developing crypto payment cards to facilitate the use of crypto everywhere, to be used just as a fiat credit or debit card currently is; one swipe and you’re done.
Once crypto payment becomes a fully integrated means of conducting transactions, it’s believed that the truly cashless society won’t be too far behind, as GB Pounds, US Dollars and the full gamut of Euros convert their physical coins and notes into digital. In October 2017, The Telegraph
posited that this state may not be very far off. Crypto Assets Right Now
As cryptocurrencies continue to boom, they have birthed in their turn a new form of crypto asset: the crypto token. Used as a form of virtual share, crypto tokens are sold by businesses as a means to raise funds in a process called an ICO (initial coin offering).
Although associated with tech startups trying to get off the ground and struggling to find capital elsewhere – it’s become notoriously difficult to gain a small business loan in the decade since the global financial crisis – a growing number of established businesses are turning to the ICO as a means to further develop their products and plans. While investing in the first option can bring tremendous gains if the company takes off – the value of Ethereum has increased by 60,000%
since it began life as an ICO in 2013; just imagine if you’d put in £1,000 back then – it does come with that big, risky, IF. Even the best ideas are vulnerable to failure due to either extraneous conditions or poor management, so an ICO for an established company presents a more comfortable investment proposition for the risk-averse.
ICOs normally last for a short period of time, offering interested parties the opportunity to buy tokens for a specified cryptocurrency. At the end of the ICO, those investors can then sell on their tokens to other interested parties, although they generally wait a year or more – unless the market rockets – to make a solid return.
As an example, the FastInvest ICO launches on December 4th, 2017. The company has been comfortably trading since 2015, serving more than 8,500 P2P lending investment customers on a regular basis, and the ICO has been devised to add to the company’s products – with a P2P lending app and cryptocurrency payment card – and extending its reach with the opening of the first FastInvest American office. The ICO will last just short of two months, finishing on January 31st, 2018, and the company expects FIT (Fast Invest Tokens) to reach the open market by September 2018. A strictly limited number of FIT will be generated during the ICO period – 777 000 000 – with half being reserved for Fast Invest’s 50 employees, and the other half being open to crowd sale. The tokens will be valued at a rate of 1,000 FIT for 1ETH (Ethereum), and for simplicity, only Ethereum will be accepted within the ICO period – what investors later sell their tokens for is up to them.
The information that potential investors use to decide upon which ICO to put their crypto assets into is all available in each company’s white paper. It should detail the business as it is, its plans and projections, the current market space, the team behind the project, and a comprehensive breakdown of what the invested funds will be used for. This allows investors to thoroughly research the proposition, making sure that both project and team are genuine – easier to ascertain with an established company – and take a closer look at the financials. Change, the Future, and the ICO
ICOs have grown in popularity in direct correlation with the slowing of traditional financial markets. As it has become progressively more difficult for SMBs, SMEs, and startups to access the funding they need through established routes, it has become imperative that they find capital elsewhere. Seeing how successful crowdfunding has been in other theatres of finance – including P2P lending – it was only a matter of time before business turned to the clear advantages of the new financial movement. And now that it has begun, it is unlikely to stop. Indeed, many experts are now warning venture capitalists that it’s time to ‘wake up’ to ICOs
, with Forbes
suggesting that the ICO will soon replace the IPO (initial public offering).
The doubters still mutter that the crypto movement is a bubble, and that all bubbles eventually burst. But what happens if a bubble is coated in graphene? It becomes flexible; it shifts with the weight and momentum of the moment; it might show signs of stress and pressure, but then it rebounds and reforms its original shape. Crypto assets aren’t quite ubiquitous, but as more and more people are finding more and more uses for them, they are slowly becoming that way, and with each new function comes a new layer of graphene to the ever-growing bubble. And that makes crypto mighty.
“The unsecured loans market has experienced continuing growth over the last five years due to strong consumer confidence and record-low interest rates. However, looking ahead concern over rising levels of household debt has resulted in government intervention which may slow growth in this market.” – Sam Marks, Financial Services Analyst, Mintel Lendo, in its role as a fintech startup is opening up the personal loans market by expanding it to include cryptocurrency that is offered as collateral for a loan. Although Sam Marks from Mintel is fairly upbeat in the 2018 Mintel market report on unsecured loans, there is some cause for concern among borrowers, as conventional lenders in the UK are becoming more cautious due to concerns about rising levels of personal debt. According to the Bank of England, “Banks and building societies reined in their lending to consumers during the first three months of 2018 at the fastest rate since the credit crunch.” Its data reveals that the availability of loans to consumers slumped in the period January to March and the survey by the BoE showed that consumer lending tightened by an aggregate of 38.7%. The dramatic drop-off in approvals by lenders is partly responsible, with successful credit card applications down 26.2% and other forms of unsecured lending falling 13.2%. Analysts at HSBC said: “Today’s survey shows that credit conditions are tightening in the UK, at least for the consumer. Lendo helps consumers to get loans and credit Lendo offers an alternative solution to UK borrowers who are being turned down by the banks. And it is one where loans are approved at speed, hours rather than days, and there are no credit checks needed thanks to blockchain technology and smart contracts, plus the cryptocurrency provided as collateral against the loan. But, you might ask, how can a person access these fast loans if they don’t own Bitcoin or Ethereum, currently two of the popular cryptocurrencies accepted as collateral by Lendo? There is a simple answer to this: buy Lendo’s ELT token. At the moment, during the first phase of the ICO, the token only costs €0.20. At the end of the ICO it will cost €2. So, by buying in now you will already have multiplied your original investment. You can think of it as a savings plan for a future loan, and Lendo also plans to create a savings account at a future stage of the platform’s development. But, in the meantime, the ELT you buy today is just as acceptable as collateral for a loan through Lendo and its network of registered lenders as BTC or ETH. And Lendo will offer you a debit/credit card as well when you’re a member of its community. Read more about how Lendo can help your personal finances at lendo.io submitted by
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