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Bitcoin Three Months from Having Its Supply Halved

In a little less than 100 days, Bitcoin’s long-awaited halving will finally happen, making the digital twice as scarce as it is now. The halving which is considered to be one of the most anticipated events in the world of crypto is expected to happen on May 12. In addition to being a lot scarcer, the digital currency is set to be even more valuable. Mining it will be much more expensive once that happens simply because the rewards have now been cut in half.

What This Means for The Future

The topic of the upcoming halving has been subject to a lot of debate over the past several months. One of the most debated issues is whether the expected price increase will occur before or after the halving. None of the speculations made in this regard are verifiable and this majorly because despite the complexity of the data presented, they are dependent on simplistic comparisons from previous events in the bitcoin space.

Even so, we do not intend to invalidate the significance of the occurrences related to past halvings and how they may give us some insight into the possibilities. It will be an interesting year for bitcoin enthusiasts. That is for sure.

Another thing that is also assured is some serious volatility. The halving is quite important but we have to agree that what comes after is probably what needs more focus. We will just have to wait and see if the digital currency can pick up a fresh round of momentum in the course of the year.

Ambitious Long-Term Projections

According to renowned Wealth Manager Andy Edstrom, the Bitcoin economy is going to reach $8 Trillion in market value within the next decade. Speaking during a recent interview on the Citizen Bitcoin podcast, the wealth manager references a multi-faceted approach that took a number of factors into accounts. These factors included the devaluation of traditional or fiat currencies, speculations, and geopolitics, all of which have affected the global financial systems in one way or the other.

“…I think the total valuation on 10 years that I use is about $8 trillion and that comes from various buckets, whether it’s taking share from gold, or taking share from fiat, or taking share from offshore assets, or slightly demonetizing other stores of value like real estate or new uses that we haven’t thought of or are still under construction,” he said.

As it stands, Bitcoin’s market value sits at about $170 billion – this is rather small especially when compared to other stores of value such as gold and real estate. However, the uptrend of the cryptocurrency has given a number of pro-crypto analysts some optimism about the future of the sector. Bitcoin’s value is expected to skyrocket after the halving and this is perhaps the first step towards its $8 trillion valuation.

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Major Premier League Club Partners with Bitcoin Lottery

Last month, Crypto Millions Lotto which is arguably the biggest bitcoin lottery on the planet announced that they had inked a lucrative partnership with English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. The soccer club which is also referred to as the “Wolves” now has the lottery as its “Official Online Lottery Partner”. Obviously, this is another great milestone for the crypto community as it continues to champion mainstream adoption.

While partnerships between Premier League Clubs and sports betting companies are quite common, this one is quite special since it involves an online lottery business. Furthermore, it is also one of the few partnerships with crypto-related businesses. The Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club is no stranger to the world of crypto. It has previously partnered with CoinDeal – this was the very first time that a cryptocurrency exchange sponsored a professional soccer team.

What It Entails

As implied above, the partnership is groundbreaking particularly because of the expected outcomes. Already, the football club is considered by many members of the crypto community to be the “go-to” club. Pairing it up with Bitcoin which is also widely considered to be a default option for many crypto enthusiasts is perhaps the best way to drive the agenda forward.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the partnership is the fact that it represents a huge step forward for the mainstream adoption of digital currencies. Both the online lottery and the football club are doing their best to encourage people to use bitcoin.

Crypto Millions Lotto has taken this a step further by offering a unique referrer program which allows their customers to receive referral fees in bitcoin. In addition to that, the lottery also gives them the chance to compete for a humongous $2.5 million prize and they do not even need to buy a ticket in order to participate. Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.’s very larger fanbase will be very beneficial to this course.

“We are delighted to have found a partner that has the same disruptive ethos as ourselves. Wolves’ success last year has put the club’s name on the world stage in a sport that is by far the most-watched on the planet. As a company, we are big football fans, and Wolves is the most crypto-friendly club in England. They were an obvious choice,” Sulim Malook, the Crypto Millions Lotto CEO, said.

The online crypto-based lottery is currently licensed in over 100 countries where it has built up a great reputation for offering transparent, fair and trustworthy lottery services. Like many other crypto-based businesses, the company has been eyeing expansion plans as the crypto sector continues to mature. Clearly choosing to go with a football club which already has a huge customer base is a great way to go about it.

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Crypto to Have More Impact on the Future of Online Gambling

Over the past decade, cryptocurrencies have, without a doubt, been one of the most influential technologies on the planet. Even though most people may only be aware of a couple of cryptocurrencies and a few rather mainstream applications, there is much more that underlies the industry. These are mostly in niche sectors but they have been significantly impacted nonetheless.

One of the growing numbers of areas where digital currencies and the blockchain are making a wave is in the gambling sector. This is especially true for the online gambling sector. For this piece, we are interested in breaking down some recent developments involving two digital currencies.

BlockchainTRON (TRX) Revolutionary Technology

On online gambling websites, bitcoin still reigns supreme but it has been receiving massive competition from BlockchainTRON (TRX) which is viewed by many to be a viable alternative. That said, as hard it may seem, there is a chance that the digital currency could potentially match up to or even dethrone bitcoin in the online gambling space.

Right off the bat, the TRX project is mainly aimed at ensuring the provision of a decentralized global digital gambling and entertainment system. In its quest to achieve that, it has managed to outshine bitcoin and some other digital currencies in a number of ways including its ability to provide simple and cost-effective sharing of digital content.

Perhaps the biggest advantage that TRX has is the fact that the platform already boasts of having a number of decentralized apps (dApps) on its network. Most of these ones are online casinos with a plethora of casino games that players can dive into.

As such, the future of online gambling will certainly be tied to crypto and blockchain technologies in one way or the other. TRX will definitely be a part of that thanks to its decentralized TRON blockchain platform.

The Rise of Tether

A year ago, Tether was not a very recognizable name, especially among mainstream users. However, things have changed dramatically with some digital currency payment processors revealing that they were recording up to 30 times the number Tether transactions they were processing last year.

Despite the controversies surrounding its use – there are speculations that it is being used to manipulate the prices of other digital assets – Tether actually has so much to offer. Its main selling point is its stability, that is, it was built on the principle of stability with its price being kept at a 1 to 1 ratio with the US Dollar. This is achieved through the use of reserves. It is this feature that has made it so popular among hundreds of merchants including a number of popular online gambling platforms.

In fact, it is being used in place of many other cryptocurrencies which is definitely proof that it might just be here to stay.

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Crypto Industry Preparing for Google’s “Quantum Supremacy”

Recent reports have suggested that Google appears to have reached an impressive milestone that is known as “quantum supremacy.” This basically means that the company has managed to use a quantum computer to perform calculations that are practically impossible for classical computers to solve. Referred to as Sycamore, Google’s quantum computer was able to perform the fete with only 54 qubits – one of which reportedly failed to work. This is quite impressive especially considering the fact that for quantum computers to really come into their own, they will need up to thousands more qubits.

While this is certainly great news for tech enthusiasts who are interested in quantum computing, it has sent the crypto and blockchain communities into a frenzy. For a very long time, members of the crypto community and cryptography experts have debated endlessly about the potential impact of quantum computing on digital currencies.

In fact, since the first digital currency came to be, researchers, technologists, and governments have developed deep interests in building software that is aimed at mitigating the threat of quantum computing. While still largely theoretical, quantum computers such as Google’s Sycamore, are considered to be able to vastly speed up the process of solving complex computations. This poses a huge threat to existing cryptographic technologies such as cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.

David Chaum Calls for Quantum Resistant Technology

After news of Google’s massive breakthrough hit the airwaves, David Chaum who is considered to be the “godfather of crypto”, weighed in on the issue by calling on the blockchain industry to focus on quantum-resistant technology. According to the cryptographer, the threat may already be quite real since there is no sure way of telling how long various nations have been working on the development of quantum computers. In retrospective, a number of governments have in the past been in possession of advanced cryptographic capabilities for extended periods of time without anyone knowing.

“The news that Google has achieved quantum supremacy strengthens my belief that quantum computing is coming and as a consequence, I believe we should all use approaches that are quantum-resistant,” he said.

Chaum further took the opportunity to share some details about his own digital currency which itself is supported by Praxxis, a quantum-resistant blockchain.  The Praxxis protocol utilizes quantum-resistant signatures based on large random numbers while simultaneously overcoming the challenges faced by legacy blockchains. These include such things as scalability, privacy as well as security. Praxxis was developed by a team of cryptographers and developers under Chaum’s leadership and it features a new approach to consensus.

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China’s Digital Currency to Launch Soon

The central bank of China is reportedly ready to launch its state-backed digital currency and once launched, it will be initially issued to seven institutions over the next months. According Paul Schulte, an independent researcher and formers employee of one of the institutions, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China; two of China’s largest financial technology companies, Alibaba and Tencent; and Union Pay, an association of Chinese banks, will receive the cryptocurrency. There are also reports that there is an eighth institution that will receive the central bank’s currency when it finally launches.

While the institutions have not officially released any information pertaining to the plans for the digital currency, the country’s government has previously confirmed that the technology that will be powering the currency has been ready since 2018 and it could launch as soon as November 11.

Once it is launched, the institutions that will be issued with the digital currency will be responsible for dispersing it to China’s 1.3 billion citizens as well as to people doing business using China’s fiat currency. Furthermore, the Chinese central bank has hopes that the currency will eventually be availed to users in other parts of the world through relationships with corresponding banks in those jurisdictions – the United State is one of the prime candidates for these plans.

Why Is China Launching Its Own Digital Currency?

China has one of the biggest informal or black economies on the planet and this makes the collection of taxes very difficult.

“The major business for most underground banks is now contra payments, leading to huge capital outflows and great damage to society. It’s the major target of our crackdown,” reveals a recent notice issued by China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) believes that the introduction of a state-backed digital currency will help it take back control of certain aspects of the economy and crack-down on the black economy. The currency is intended to offer “controllable privacy” which will allow users to transact without having to give away personal information. To achieve this, the currency will be “loosely coupled’ with an account. However, for the sake of mitigating against tax evasion and other illegal activities, the People’s Bank of China will be able to view the transactions.

“…there will be variable transaction fees, as well as daily and annual transaction limits to give the central bank more tools to control the velocity of money and its supply when interest rates cease to be a viable channel for intervention,” the Vice Governor of the bank said.

Lowering the cost of transactions is another aspect that the bank hopes to achieve in its bid to make financial services more widely available. Needless to say, this will be a huge development for the country since a significant portion of the population is unbanked.

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Facebook’s Libra and the Future of Digital Currencies

A few weeks ago, Facebook Inc. announced it plans to launch Libra, a blockchain-based payment system that the company has described as a new “global currency”. This term may seem very familiar and this is because it has been thrown around especially when describing other digital currencies. However, unlike most, if not all other cryptocurrencies, Libra is actually backed by real assets and is pegged to stable government securities.

As a matter of fact, the project has already partnered with several corporate partners who include global financial companies such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Coinbase among others – each of these companies has contributed at least $10 million for the initiative and Facebook plans to partner with as many as 100 companies and accumulate $1 billion in assets by the time Libra goes live in the first half of 2020.

The Goal

Needless to say, Facebook’s announcement was not like any other digital currency unveiling. This was not just another blockchain and there is a very good reason why. So, unlike other digital currency offerings, Facebook’s new venture aims to bank the unbanked population (1.7 billion people) and this is what makes it such a big deal.

Obviously, providing financial services to such as a scale using relatively new financial technology is definitely no easy task but this is where Facebook’s resources and the members of the Libra Association come in. Putting those into consideration, it is pretty clear that the project was well thought out which is expected of any company that hopes to break the ground on new and innovative ideas.

How It Works

Libra is expected to allow people to purchase goods and services as well as send me to others with almost no fees. Users will also be able to use pseudonyms to buy or cash out their Libra on a number of online platforms or at exchange points such as grocery stores. They will also be able to spend the currency using third-party wallets or Facebook’s Calibra wallet that will be offered using a standalone app and will also be built into WhatsApp and Messenger.

Fortunately, the digital currency and platform offer some form of decentralization since Facebook will not have full control of Libra – just like the other members of the Libra Association such as Uber and Visa, the behemoth tech company will only get a single vote in the governance of the new currency. The Libra association as a whole will be tasked with promoting the open-source Libra Blockchain as well as the currency’s developer platform with its own Move programming language.

Moreover, Calibra, a subsidiary company, is also being launched by Facebook and it will be tasked with handling crypto dealings and protecting the users especially from targeted advertising. To achieve this, the company will ensure that the users’ real identities are not tied to their publicly visible  Libra transactions.

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Can Crypto Replace Credit Cards for UK Online Gambling?

The UK Gambling Commission, in March 2018, announced that it was mulling over a possible ban on the use of credit cards on online gambling sites. This consideration came up following the commission’s report on responsible gambling measures where it was found that the availability of credit card payment options at online casinos was a viable cause of harmful gambling tendencies among a considerably large number of people.

According to the commission’s report, approximately 10 to 20 percent of all the deposits that were made to online gambling sites in the country were made using credit cards. In essence, this implies that close to a fifth of all the online gambling that was carried out in the United Kingdom was facilitated by borrowed money. This even becomes a much bigger problem when we factor in the fact that most, if not all, of the involved credit card companies treat these transactions in the same exact way that they treat cash advances – that is, they do not come with an interest-free period, may entail exorbitantly higher interest rates and often incur varying amounts of handling fees. Combined, these are the ultimate ingredients for problem gambling and never-ending financial woes for given groups of people – problem gamblers.

The UK Gambling Commission has taken a more proactive approach in the way it handles its activities of late and thus if things keep going the way they are, it is possible that it will indeed proceed to regulate a credit card ban of some kind.

What Next?

Naturally, if it so happens that the use of credit cards for making online casino payments is banned, both the consumers and operators will need to find viable alternatives. Some of the ones that have already been floated around include e-wallets and bank transfers both of which are actually quite reasonable. However, by far the most revolutionary and perhaps the most appealing is blockchain technology and the associated digital currencies.

Needless to say, cryptocurrencies have grown immensely popular over the past few years and within that time a number of online gambling sites have adopted their use in a number of different ways. This implies that there is already a sense of direction and thus it should not be so hard to have digital currencies completely replace credit cards as a payment option on online gambling websites.

There are a number of advantages that a crypto-powered gambling service would have but it is important to note that there will equally be a unique set of challenges. Still, with the looming ban on credit card use on online gambling websites, it will definitely be a great time to advance the agenda for mainstream adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

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Cryptocurrency Exchanges Lost More Than $1.5 Billion in 2018

2018 was indeed a monumental period for the cryptocurrency community primarily because of the various highs and lows of the industry as well as the many innovations that we got to see. Some of the most notable occurrences were the loss of funds by a number of exchanges all over the world. It was hard to keep track of the amounts but now, thanks to a Q4 cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering report that was published by CipherTrace, a blockchain intelligence agency, it has been revealed that criminals stole a whopping $1.7 billion of cryptocurrency last year. The company further pointed out that cryptocurrency theft is still on the rise despite the freefalling prices of cryptocurrencies as well as the savage bear market that the sector has been subject to.

Of the $1.7 billion that was stolen from the crypto exchanges and wallet providers, $950 million went to hackers. This was 3.6 times more than what was recorded in 2017 which further shows there is one increase in theft despite market drops – the price of bitcoin, for instance, has dropped in value by almost 80 percent. Obviously, this is a very worrying statistic especially for an industry that is trying very hard to achieve mainstream adoption.

The Reasons

As it turns out, many of the existing exchanges have been in operation for no more than two years and most of them do not have sufficient safeguards in place to prevent hackers from stealing their funds. The lack of these safeguards makes it possible for hackers to obtain simple files of cryptographic private keys and each can be worth anywhere between $30 million and $500 million. While this is the case with most companies, it is also worth noting that not all crypto-related businesses are not immature in terms of funding, implementation, and training – the tools and methods used by hackers are also becoming more and more sophisticated which means that even established companies that are considered to have better safeguards can lose funds or data due to hacks.

At least $725 million of the stolen crypto funds came from “inside jobs” which included exit scams, fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and Ponzi Schemes.

Proposed Solutions

According to Dave Jevans, the CEO of CipherTrace and co-chair of the Cryptocurrency Working Group at the APWG.org, the cryptocurrency sector needs to implement huge improvement to their infrastructure and increasing education in order to prevent such kinds of attacks. Such measures could involve the use of robust anti-phishing measures, cold storages as well as data sharing and behavioral analytics. Fortunately, thanks to the global wave of regulations that will be going into effect anytime this year, laundering of digital currencies by hackers and criminals will be much harder to do. Hopefully, it gets better from there.

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More Institutional Investors to Venture into Crypto in 2019

The price of a number of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, which is considered to be the mother of all cryptocurrencies, took big hits in 2018 amid the prolonged Crypto Winter. Even though there is no guarantee that it cannot get any worse than it did in the just concluded year, many investment analysts and financial market experts are expecting the volatility to subside significantly this year largely due to the entry of institutional investors. In fact, according to a report the Australian Financial Review some analysts even believe that bitcoin may make a comeback that will be fueled by the momentum created by institutional investors.

Over the summer of 2018, Wall Street was stunned by the news that some multi-billion-dollar endowments of Harvard, Yale and Stanford had decided to invest in digital currencies. Analysts believe that due to the herd mentality of most institutions, the move is likely to trigger a chain reaction of sorts among other institutional investors like pension funds. This influx of institutional investors was expected to pick up in a major way in late 2018 but the harsh bear market that affected nearly all digital currencies stalled most of the efforts – a number of the institutions were reportedly scared off by the protracted downturn of the crypto market which is an understandable move especially for organizations operating within that particular space.

Financial analysts have projected that, as Wall Street appears to be poised to even more turbulence in 2019, organizations may begin to consider crypto assets even more seriously – these assets are not buoyed since they have no correlation to the regular stock market and this makes a pretty good investment, especially during volatile periods.

Will Crypto Finally be Legitimized?

Well, many observers believe that, as it stands, mainstream adoption hinges on regulatory clarity to help legitimize the market. Regulation is already a big deal and has been defined by the move by US lawmakers in December 2018 to propose legislation that was designed to prevent bitcoin price manipulation and position the United States as a market leader in the crypto space. The US is being encouraged not to ignore the “profound potential” of crypto to bolster the country’s economy and this might just be what is needed to have digital currencies legitimized. The industry is putting a lot of effort into advancing the agenda of mainstream adoption of crypto most by greasing the wheels of Congress.

Unfortunately, there are some setbacks that may still impede the growth of the sector and one of the most serious ones is the scalability. As it stands, most platforms would need about a year to figure out concrete solutions to scaling, but until then let’s hope that the Lightning Network grows further and, hopefully, achieves its full potential.

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UK Lawmaker Proposes Tax & Utility Bill Payments in Bitcoin

Eddie Hughes, a Conservative UK Member of Parliament is calling for local authorities in the country to take the lead and begin accepting tax and utility bill payments in bitcoin. According to the politician, bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology both have great potential but the lack of reliable or adequate information and knowledge in this regard is one of the things that is preventing wider adoption.

“You’re either ahead of the curve or you’re behind the curve,” he said in a recent interview.

In the interview with the Daily Express, the lawmaker pointed out that the country is in a very interesting position especially because it hopes to be seen as a progressive nation. While the United Kingdom is still at crossroads, the decision to adopt the use of cryptocurrencies could prove to be very beneficial in the near future. If this is to happen, people will first have to understand how the transactions work and see how accessible the technology can be – ideally, the technology needs to appear like an app that can be used to make fast, safe and secure payments.

Being that the technology is talked about a lot in, the member of parliament feels that all the other lawmakers have a duty to understand it, something that will then enable them to make more informed decisions pertaining to the technology. Hughes further cited the Royal National Lifeboat Institution which is currently accepting charitable donations through cryptocurrency – this particular use case proves that bitcoin and other digital currencies can be used for many other services as well.

“The state should focus its attention on using blockchain to enable social freedom, to increase efficiency, and to rebuild societal trust,” Hughes stated.

This is, however, not the first time that Hughes has publicly supported cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Back in July, he wrote a report that called for the state to appoint a ‘Chief Blockchain Officer.’

Is This Possible?

Accepting taxes and utility bills in crypto would definitely be a good start for the crypto community and the country. However, regulators in Europe have been very skeptical about cryptocurrencies especially because digital currencies are very volatile and risky and are often associated with such vices as terrorism, fraud and money laundering. These European regulator’s alarmist entreaties have mounted quite a lot of pressure on the government of various European countries to implement some very stringent regulations that are supposedly meant to protect the public and investors while at the same time preventing the risk of financial instability.

As it stands, the future of crypto in the UK is even more uncertain thanks to a revelation by the country’s Finance Conduct Authority that it is considering banning crypto-linked derivative products. All these will be looked into in the first quarter of 2019.