Venezuelan Government Forcing Petro Down the Pensioners Throats


Nicolas Maduro PetroNicolas Maduro Petro

The Government of Venezuela is reportedly taking pensioners’ bolivars from their accounts and replacing them with their cryptocurrency, the Petro.

According to Caracas Chronicles, the elderly residents recently received their monthly pensions in Venezuela’s official currency. Their wallet service, dubbed as Motherland, sent a notification that their accounts were credited with 1,800 Bolivars. However, the pensioners received another similar information from Motherland on the same day, stating that their account was now credited with the Petro.

Notably, the government took out pensioners’ Bolivars without their consent, repackaged it into Petro, and returned it to their wallets. Understanding that pensioners live solely on these bonuses, and they are already equipped with the process of withdrawing them through a simple bank transfer process, handling them with Petro units have made things difficult.

Caracas Chronicles argued that Petro cryptocurrency is unspendable at banks, meaning elderlies would not be able to exchange them as quickly as they used the Bolivar. There is, however, a complex process of converting the Petro units back to Bolivar. What’s further worse is that the value of Bolivar is not accurately pegged to the Petro. The Petro-to-bolivar exchange rate has surged 66.5% in the past two weeks.

“This must be a new form of the dictator’s erotic fantasy and wet dream: full control over citizens’ finances. They could take money when they feel like it, erase it, transfer it, you name it,” the financial blog stated.

There are also doubts whether or not real assets sufficiently back Petro. The government claims that the total supply of the Mineral Resources-backed cryptocurrency equals up to $6 billion, but they didn’t provide any detailed audit that highlights the sum and source of the valuation.

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro, nevertheless, has pledged to expand the use of Petro in every government initiative in the country. He announced in August that their government would deploy the cryptocurrency in the pension sector, followed by a ruling that residents will have to pay for their passport fee using Petro. He now plans to enable government institutions to pay their employees in Petro too.

Criticism

US President Donald Trump ordered prohibition on the use of Venezuela-backed cryptocurrency by their citizens, after finding that it was against the sanctions the US has put on the South American nation. Economists rejected Petro for lacking the quality of a state-backed national currency, believing that it would further dig the economic pothole for Venezuela by making Bolivar more hyperinflated than ever.

Steve Hanke, for instance, straightforwardly called Petro a sham, saying that it doesn’t exist.

No internationally-recognized financial body has come out in support of Venezuela’s cryptocurrency plans.

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Crypto Hedge Fund: No One Took us up on $1 Million Stock Market Bet


Morgan Creek founder Anthony Pompliano has claimed that his company’s $1 million bet on stocks outperforming crypto over the next ten years has had no takers since it was put up more than a week ago. On December 9, CCN reported that Morgan Creek instituted a $1 million “Buffet 2.0” wager inviting investors and money management professionals to bet on the S&P 500 making more money than crypto over the next ten years.

Morgan Creek’s “Buffet 2.0”

In 2007, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet issued a $1 million bet against asset manager Protégé Partners on the premise that the S&P 500 would outperform a group of hedge funds over a 10-year period ending in 2017. Buffet was proven right over the course of the wager, with the S&P 500 returning an average of 7.1 percent annual compounded returns, as against the hedge fund basket, which only returned an average of 2.2 percent.

Morgan Creek is trying to demonstrate its faith in the power and future of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology with a similar wager set to expire in 2028. Apart from publicly displaying its confidence in crypto, the purpose of the bet is also to draw attention to the fact that amidst all the publicity about the crypto bear market, equity assets are also performing relatively poorly. Indeed Pompliano recently pointed out on his twitter account that the S&P 500 recorded more than $755 billion of losses in just a few hours on December 4, which is more than the entire crypto market has lost all year.

Writing on Twitter on Saturday, Pompliano revealed that over seven days after opening the challenge, the company has not found anyone willing to take up the opposite position. This he said, is proof that while conventional market participants regularly criticise crypto for a range of reasons including falling prices and volatility, they do not actually believe their own criticism enough to put money behind it.

The tweet read:

CCN earlier reported that Pompliano predicted a bitcoin price bottom at an 85 discount to its all time high, which comes to about $3,000. At press time, bitcoin was holding steady at about $3,306. In his opinion, this represents a fair correction for a market that became overvalued during its bull run in December last year. After the price floor is established according to him, bitcoin and crypto in general will experience another surge, driven this time by the utility of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology as a transaction settlement layer with the world’s most advanced security framework.

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Brazilian Football Club Atletico Mineiro Launch Crypto Token for Fans


The latest football team to embrace cryptocurrency is the Brazilian football club Atletico Mineiro, who are amidst launching a crypto token for fans called ‘Galo Coins’.

The relationship between the crypto industry and football is at an all-time-high as sports and crypto are a match made in heaven. As crypto looks to gain wider traction in the mainstream, nothing is more mainstream than football.

New Crypto Token for Football Fans

Atletico Mineiro is a Brazilian Premier League club that is making the news for creating their own Galo Coins, which is a crypto for fans of the club that enables them to buy match tickets and merchandise, while also obtaining numerous discounts at the club.

The word ‘Galo’, translates in English to ‘rooster’, which is the club’s mascot. The move makes Atletico Mineiro the first Brazilian football club to launch a blockchain-based crypto for payments across South America.

The best part about the coin is its simplicity, which is essential when trying to attract new crypto users. The Galo Coins are priced the same as the Brazilian Real currency. Fans need to buy at least 50 Galo Coins, which is approximately $13 to be able to use the tokens.

The crypto token is similar to the Foot Coin platform and allows users to exchange the Galo Coins for Ethereum tokens. Other top-flight football clubs across Europe who are currently using the same concept are Paris Saint Germain and the Italian football giants Juventus.

Partnership Between Football and Crypto

Football and cryptocurrency go together like foot and boot! In recent times, we have seen football legends such as Ronaldinho create his own Ronaldinho Soccer Coin (RSC) that aims to launch a variety of VR soccer stadiums across the world.

Other world-renowned footballers such as Didier Drogba, Michael Owen, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, and Lionel Messi have joined the crypto affray by either creating their own coins or endorsing another crypto token.

Earlier this year, Gibraltar United became the first football team in the world to pay its players in cryptocurrency. The club’s owner Pablo Dana created his own Quantocoin crypto token that could well be used as a blueprint for clubs looking to fully integrate crypto into their football clubs.

As football and crypto forge a partnership that could change the way fans buy tickets and merchandise, it will be interesting to see how the Atletico Mineiro crypto token pans out in both the short and long-term.

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Bitcoin Bomb Threats, Romanian Fraud Arrests, Bitcoin Cash Continues to Plummet, Coinbase Integrates Paypal and More: This Week in Crypto


Several Notches Above Ransomware

An extortion scheme which sought to terrorize people into paying over BTC made global headlines over the course of the week. The threats happened worldwide, at a minimum being reported in the US, New Zealand, and Australia. The bomb threats demanded $20,000 in BTC in exchange for the terrorists to “give the command to my person to get away.” At least one address used in such schemes has to date received absolutely nothing, and there are no reports of anyone actually being injured as a result of failure to pay the ransom.

In related news, a “sextortion” scheme has been ongoing, seducing people into forcefully installing ransomware on their devices, ultimately forcing them to pay BTC or lose access to their data.

Romanian Bitcoin Exchange CoinFlux Sees Its CEO Arrested, Wanted for Extradition to the US

CCN broke the story of Vlad Nistor in the English speaking world. Nistor is the CEO and founder of a Romanian Bitcoin exchange called CoinFlux and is accused of having helped Romanian phishing scam artists – who actually traveled to the US as part of their scams in 2014 and 2015 – wash the proceeds of their scams in cryptocurrency when the exchange was just getting started up.

AriseBank CEO Settles SEC Charges

On the subject of scammers, Jared Rice, Sr., the CEO of the ICO-backed AriseBank scam has settled all charges with the SEC, amounting to well over $2 million fines and restitution. His criminal case is still pending.

Bitcoin Cash Bears In A Frenzy

For the first time ever this week, Bitcoin Cash saw a lower valuation than Ethereum. Ethereum itself is struggling on several fronts, the market being perhaps the least important to long-term bulls in the token platform. Actual dApp usage on the platform is incredibly low overall. We also reported this week how Tron, an alternative smart contract platform with a base token valued well under $1, saw more than a million transactions per day in its own dApps, indicating a growing demand for the token and its applications.

Bitcoin Cash ABC, the fork that retained the BCH ticker across exchanges, continues to plummet in value with no end in sight. Erstwhile, the other side of the fork, Bitcoin SV, seems to stay just behind BCH in price, the two being valued at $82 and $77 respectively on Saturday night. The continuing lack of confidence in Bitcoin Cash as a whole might be related to such things as lawsuits alleging overt centralization in addition to the general frigid atmosphere surrounding cryptos amid regulatory moves and prosecutions.

Coinbase Integrates Paypal

Coinbase users no longer need a traditional bank account to withdraw proceeds from Coinbase trades. They can withdraw to a Paypal account as of Friday. According to CCN writer Samantha Cheng:

Before, you needed an ACH (automated clearing house) or federal wire account to withdraw funds from your Coinbase account. And it could take up to two business days for the transaction to clear.

The only thing missing now is PayPal deposits, which are still not available, meaning that customers must use at a minimum a Debit or Credit Card to fund their account. The unbanked stay unbanked if they use Coinbase, at least for now.

Porsche Uses Blockchain to Arrange $170 Million Loan

Porsche wanted a loan to conduct a targeted acquisition, and according to CCN’s Melanie Kramer, they recently used BBVA’s blockchain products to do so:

Acquisition term loans are provided for a specific purpose and period. In this case, Porsche Holding Salzburg, a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, is seeking to expand its retail distribution network in Europe and Asia.

The pilot also makes Porsche, still the largest automotive distributor in Europe, the first non-Spanish borrower to use BBVA DLT to negotiate and close a corporate loan.

BBVA has conducted other loans using its blockchain infrastructure in the recent past.

African Militants Use ERC-20 Token As Official Currency

A group of Camaroon separatists who are working to establish what they called “Ambazonia,” have created AmbaCoin, an ERC-20 token that they tout as their official currency.

CCN’s David Hundeyin reported that there were still some unanswered questions about AmbaCoin:

As is the case with the Petro, it is currently unclear how the natural resources and projected earnings that give it value will be quantified and calculated, and it is also unclear how the said resources will be harnessed given that the Cameroonian military still maintains control of Southern Cameroon.

At time of writing, they were still selling the tokens for 25 cents US each to raise funds.

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BitUSD Divorces Wildly From $1 Target


BitUSD logo

According to recent market data, bitUSD, an elder stablecoin with a similar design and functionality to the Dai, is currently worth 30% less than the dollar it is intended to be worth. The way the design of BitShares, the platform on which BitUSD is issued, works is that if the network lacks liquidity for the shares issued, the tokens automatically go into “global settlement” mode. That means they can no longer be issued. All that can be done at this point with BitUSD tokens is a redemption against BTS – currently at a rate of about 70 cents on the dollar.

Back on December 4th, a BitShares user calling himself “bitsharesbagholder” posted to the official BitShares forum with concerns that BitUSD was effectively “dead.” The purpose of trading the tokens is to denominate in US Dollars, after all, and if one is unable to effectively do that due to a lack of collateral in the network against which the tokens are issued.

The global downturn in cryptocurrency prices has likely played a big role in the devaluation of the BitUSD token. In order to effectively redeem tokens for a dollar’s worth of cryptos, the cryptos held in the BitShares contracts must hold a value that enables them to do so.

Holders of the BitUSD tokens have little recourse, and if they actually want to redeem at $1, they’ll have to wait until the token recovers its value on the market place. As analyst Lance Kasper explains:

Unlike many attempts to create a digital asset that tracks the dollar, market pegged asset are not an “I owe you” issued by any entity. For this reason, it does not rely on a specific counterparty to honor its value. Although manipulation risk occurs in any market, it is minimized by the open source and auditable nature of the BitShares system and carefully considered market rules. BitAssets stored on an exchange become IOUs and are subject to counter party risk just like storing bitcoin or bitshares on an exchange. This risk is not a property of the BitAssets themselves. We recomend that users never deposit BitAssets on an exchange and instead only use gateways that issue their IOUs onto the BitShares network. This way you can trade your BitUSD against gateway IOUs without exposing your BitUSD to counter party risk while in the order book.

The last time the BitUSD token had a market-standard parity with the US Dollar was November 28th.

The last time the BitUSD token had a market-standard parity with the US Dollar was November 28th. It had seen a mild dip of almost 12 cents prior to that, but recovered before going on a long slide. Trading volumes have been in the tens of thousands.

BitUSD’s overall market capitalization is a fraction of other stablecoins, thus the number of affected parties is far smaller than if a similar thing were to happen with a token like USDC or Tether or Pax. These stablecoins have a different design altogether, though, which would necessitate some degree of fraud for that much value to go missing from the system of redemption and pegging.

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Donald Trump Hires Prominent Bitcoin Supporter Mick Mulvaney to White House Staff


U.S. President Donald Trump has hired the prominent Bitcoin supporter Mick Mulvaney to be his new White House Chief of Staff.

Donald Trump is one of the most polarizing people on Planet Earth and whether you love him or hate him, it is beneficial for the crypto industry to have a major Bitcoin advocate whispering sweet nothings into the ear of the American President.

Donald Trump Makes Positive Appointment for Crypto Industry

Although Donald Trump might not top a list of the humblest people on the planet, he most definitely loves making money. Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney to the White House is a massive boon for crypto-fanatics.

Mick Mulvaney is a crypto supporter and fan. When he was working at the House of Representatives, Mulvaney, who is a South Carolina Republican, was one of the people who worked towards creating the Blockchain Caucus, which is a group of lawmakers that write and create new laws for emerging technologies such as cryptocurrency.

Donald Trump was upbeat when taking to his Twitter account to welcome Mulvaney and congratulate him on being named as Acting White House Chief of Staff:

Employing a Bitcoin Supporter

“Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the financial services industry, the U.S. economy and the delivery of government services, and I am proud to be involved with this initiative.” -Mick Mulvaney. Image from Flickr.

Mick Mulvaney has knowledge of the inner-workings of blockchain and crypto in general. He helped the Blockchain Caucus to draft two new legislative acts that support the growth and evolution of the blockchain industry. The proposals were drafted to help increase the growth and support of blockchain innovation.

The House Resolution 1108 was proposed to increase research in blockchain technology to show Congress how to take a sensible regulatory approach to the industry’s newest technological innovations.

House Resolution 7002 was a proposal to amend the E-SIGN Act that was to “confirm the applicability of blockchain to electronic records, electronic signatures and smart contracts.”

To give you an idea of Mulvaney’s feelings towards Bitcoin, here is a statement he made at the time of helping to create the Blockchain Caucus:

“Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the financial services industry, the U.S. economy and the delivery of government services, and I am proud to be involved with this initiative.”

Although U.S. President Donald Trump rightfully gets criticism from all quarters for some of his decisions, especially in terms of immigration and foreign policy, when it comes to emerging blockchain technology, he seems quite open to its potential.

The appointment of Mick Mulvaney to the White House by Donald Trump is a positive move for crypto-fans and aficionados alike.

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