The news this week is that several banks in the USA and the UK have Crypto Wallet banned the use of credit cards to purchase crypto currencies (CC’s). The stated reasons are impossible to believe – like trying to curtail money laundering, gambling, and protecting the retail investor from excessive risk. Interestingly, the banks will allow debit card purchases, making it clear that the only risks being protected are their own.
With a credit card you can gamble at a casino, buy guns, drugs, alcohol, pornography, everything and anything you desire, but some banks and credit card companies want to prohibit you from using their facilities to purchase crypto currencies? There must be some believable reasons, and they are NOT the reasons stated.
One thing that banks are afraid of is how difficult it would be to confiscate CC holdings when the credit card holder defaults on payment. It would be much more difficult than re-possessing a house or a car. A crypto wallet’s private keys can be put on a memory stick or a piece of paper and easily removed from the country, with little or no trace of its whereabouts. There can be a high value in some crypto wallets, and the credit card debt may never be repaid, leading to a declaration of bankruptcy and a significant loss for the bank. The wallet still contains the crypto currency, and the owner can later access the private keys and use a local CC Exchange in a foreign country to convert and pocket the money. A nefarious scenario indeed.
We are certainly not advocating this kind of unlawful behavior, but the banks are aware of the possibility and some of them want to shut it down. This can’t happen with debit cards as the banks are never out-of-pocket – the money comes out of your account immediately, and only if there is enough of your money there to start with. We struggle to find any honesty in the bank’s story about curtailing gambling and risk taking. It’s interesting that Canadian banks are not jumping on this bandwagon, perhaps realizing that the stated reasons for doing so are bogus. The fallout from these actions is that investors and consumers are now aware that credit card companies and banks really do have the ability to restrict what you can purchase with their credit card. This is not how they advertise their cards, and it is likely a surprise to most users, who are quite used to deciding for themselves what they will purchase, especially from CC Exchanges and all the other merchants who have established Merchant Agreements with these banks. The Exchanges have done nothing wrong – neither have you – but fear and greed in the banking industry is causing strange things to happen. This further illustrates the degree to which the banking industry feels threatened by Crypto Currencies.
At this point there is little cooperation, trust, or understanding between the fiat money world and the CC world. The CC world has no central controlling body where regulations can be implemented across the board, and that leaves each country around the world trying to figure out what to do. China has decided to ban CC’s, Singapore and Japan embrace them, and many other countries are still scratching their heads. What they have in common is that they want to collect taxes on CC investment profits. This is not too unlike the early days of digital music, with the internet facilitating the unfettered proliferation and distribution of unlicensed music. Digital music licensing schemes were eventually developed and accepted, as listeners were OK with paying a little something for their music, rather than endless pirating, and the music industry (artists, producers, record companies) were OK with reasonable licensing fees rather than nothing. Can there be compromise in the future of fiat and digital currencies? As people around the world get more fed up with outrageous bank profits and bank overreach into their lives, there is hope that consumers will be regarded with respect and not be forever saddled with high costs and unwarranted restrictions.
Investing in the Crypto Currency market space can be a little daunting for the traditional investor, as investing directly in Crypto Currency (CC) requires the use of new tools and adopting some new concepts. So if you do decide to dip your toes in this market, you will want to have a very good idea of what to do and what to expect.
Buying and selling CC’s requires you to choose an Exchange that deals in the products you want to buy and sell, be they Bitcoin, Litecoin, or any of the over 1300 other tokens in play. In previous editions we have briefly described the products and services available at a few exchanges, to give you an idea of the different offerings. There are many Exchanges to choose from and they all do things in their own way. Look for the things that matter to you, for example:
– Deposit policies, methods, and costs of each method
– Withdrawal policies and costs
– Which fiat currencies they deal in for deposits and withdrawals
– Products they deal in, such as crypto coins, gold, silver etc
– Costs for transactions
– where is this Exchange based? (USA / UK / South Korea / Japan…)
Be prepared for the Exchange setup procedure to be detailed and lengthy, as the Exchanges generally want to know a lot about you. It is akin to setting up a new bank account, as the Exchanges are brokers of valuables, and they want to be sure that you are who you say you are, and that you are a trustworthy person to deal with. It seems that “trust’ is earned over time, as the Exchanges typically allow only small investment amounts to begin with.
Your Exchange will keep your CC’s in storage for you. Many offer “cold storage” which simply means that your coins are kept “offline” until you indicate that you want to do something with them. There are quite a few news stories of Exchanges being hacked, and many coins stolen. Think about your coins being in something like a bank account at the Exchange, but remember that your coins are digital only, and that all blockchain transactions are irreversible. Unlike your bank, these Exchanges do not have deposit insurance, so be aware that hackers are always out there trying everything they can to get at your Crypto Coins and steal them. Exchanges generally offer Password protected accounts, and many offer 2-factor authorization schemes – something to seriously consider in order to protect your account from hackers.
Given that hackers love to prey on Exchanges and your account, we always recommend that you use a digital wallet for your coins. It is relatively easy to move coins between your Exchange account and your wallet. Be sure to choose a wallet that handles all the coins you want to be buying and selling. Your wallet is also the device you use to “spend” your coins with the merchants who accept CC’s for payment. The two types of wallets are “hot” and “cold”. Hot wallets are very easy to use but they leave your coins exposed to the internet, but only on your computer, not the Exchange server. Cold wallets use offline storage mediums, such as specialized hardware memory sticks and simple hard copy printouts. Using a cold wallet makes transactions more complicated, but they are the safest.
Your wallet contains the “private” key that authorizes all the transactions you want to initiate. You also have a “public” key that is shared on the network so that all users can identify your account when involved in a transaction with you. When hackers get your private key, they can move your coins anywhere they want, and it is irreversible.
Despite all the challenges and wild volatility, we are confident that the underlying blockchain technology is a game changer, and will revolutionize how transactions are conducted going forward.
If you are ready to make a speculative investment into this disruptive technology, and want to receive all current and future recommendations from Crypto TREND Premium, we are keeping our Early Bird Special offer open for a little longer, to give our readers the opportunity to get started at a $175 discount. Stay tuned!
Everyone has heard how Bitcoin and other crypto currencies have made millionaires of those who bought as recently as a year ago. Gains of 1,000% or more are not just possible, they have been common place with many of these crypto currencies. Someone who bought Bitcoin in May 2016 at less than $500, would have had a gain of 1,400% in about 17 months. Then over the past few days, we saw Bitcoin lose almost $1,000, so to say these crypto currencies are volatile would be a massive understatement.
Since the inception of Bitcoin in 2008, we at Trend News have been skeptical of crypto currencies’ ability to survive, given that they present a very clear threat to governments who want to see and tax all transactions. But while we may still be cautious on the actual crypto currencies, we are very aware of the potential of the underlying technology that powers these electronic currencies. In fact, we believe that this technology will be a significant disruptor in how data is managed, and that it will impact every sector of the global economy, much like how the internet impacted media.
Here are some questions & answers to get us started…
Q: What are Crypto Currencies?
The most well known crypto currency (CC) is BITCOIN. It was the first CC, started in 2008. Today there are more than 800 CC’s, including Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, Zcash, Ripple, Monero, and they are all “virtual”. There are no “physical” coins or currency.
Q: How do CC’s work?
CC’s are virtual currencies that exist in very large distributed databases. These databases use BLOCKCHAIN technology. Because each Blockchain database is widely distributed, it is thought to be immune to hacking, as there is no central point of attack and every transaction is visible to everyone on the network. Each CC has a group of administrators, often called “miners”, who validate transactions. One CC called Ethereum uses “smart contracts” to validate transactions. Crypto TREND will provide more details in upcoming news publications.
Q: What is BLOCKCHAIN?
Blockchain is the technology that underpins all CC’s. Each transaction for the purchase, sale, or exchange of CC’s is entered into a BLOCK that is added to the chain. This technology is complex and will not be explained here, but it has the potential to revolutionize the financial services industry, as transactions can be executed quickly and easily, reducing or eliminating fees. The technology is also being examined for applications in many other industries.
Q: Are CC Exchanges regulated by government?
For the most part, the answer is NO, which, for some users, is a big attractions of this market. It is the “wild west” right now, but governments in most developed countries are examining this market to decide what regulation may be needed. A big decision is whether to treat CC’s as a currency or a commodity / security. Canada and USA have so far declared that CC’s are legal, however the situation remains fluid as for reporting and tax implications. Crypto TREND will be following and reporting on these developments.
Q: How do I invest in this market?
You can buy, sell, and exchange CC’s using the services of specialized “Exchanges” that act as a brokerage. You start by selecting an Exchange, setting up an account, and transferring fiat currency into your account. You can then place your BUY and SELL CC orders. There are many exchanges around the world. Opening an account is fairly simple and these exchanges all have their own rules about initial funding and withdrawals.
Crypto TREND will be recommending CC Exchanges in future.
Q: Where do I keep my CC?
To have the freedom to move your crypto currencies around, and to pay bills, you will need to have a digital wallet. These wallets come in several formats, such as desktop, cloud based, hardware (USB), mobile phone, and paper. Many of them are FREE, however, security is a big factor as no one ever wants to lose their wallet or have it stolen. Crypto TREND will be recommending digital wallets in future.
Q: What can I do with my CC?
As well as investing in CC products, you can also use crypto currency for some financial transactions, such as money transfers and paying bills. The list of companies accepting crypto currency is growing fast, and includes big hitters like Microsoft, GAP, JC Penny, Expedia, Shopify, Bloomberg.com, Dish Network, Zynga, Subway, and WordPress.
Q: What’s next?
As we start off, we will keep each of the Crypto TREND articles short and keep the scope of each one as narrow as possible. As we noted earlier, we believe that the crypto currency technology will be a game changer and potential investment opportunities like this come by once or twice in a lifetime. Make no mistake, early investing in this sector will be only for your most speculative capital, money that you can afford to lose.
Even if you are not wanting to invest at this time, gaining an early understanding of this new disruptive technology will put you in an advantageous position to profit from our recommendations as we move forward.
Expect to see more news and specific recommendations from Crypto TREND as we start this journey into what may seem to be a foreign jungle at first. This is a volatile market and may not appeal to all investors, however, Crypto TREND will be your guide if and when you are ready.