Ripple: 5 More Banks & Fintechs Will Use XRP Cryptocurrency


ripple brad garlinghouse xrpripple brad garlinghouse xrp

Ripple announced today that a total of 13 more financial institutions had joined RippleNet, putting the total at over 200. Of these, five of them will use the ripple (XRP) cryptocurrency for liquidity. Institutions named in the press release are: JNFX, SendFriend, Transpaygo, FTCS, and Euro Exim Bank. While they will use XRP to access liquidity on demand, the 8 others will not.

Kaushik Punjani, Director of Euro Exim Bank, said of the partnership:

As a leader in trade finance solutions for global corporates and fintechs, we are uniquely placed to offer new payment channels and ways to source liquidity. Our customers—whether big corporates or individual remitters—have historically been restricted from obtaining suitable funds or settling transactions in a cost efficient and timely manner. Working collaboratively with Ripple and selected counterparts, we have designed, tested and are implementing both xCurrent and xRapid in record time, and we look forward to the benefits these will bring our customers.

Significantly, most of the companies added to RippleNet will not be using XRP for liquidity. They will be using the settlement layer of RippleNet — Ripple’s enterprise blockchain — and the network of other institutions for cross-border payments. Notably, BBVA has arranged loans to Porsche and made massive instant international transfers using Ripple’s technology stack.

Ripple Price Somewhat Stable

RippleNet and xRapid are Ripple’s core offerings to the financial world. RippleNet allows banks to work with other participants in the network in ways that vastly reduce costs, while xRapid enables liquidity instantly via XRP.

The ripple price remains steadily around 37 cents over the 24-hour period.

The Ripple price remains steadily around 37 cents over the 24-hour period.

Still a long way from its all-time-high of more than $3 per XRP, by all means Ripple continues developing its technology and business relationships in order to increase the cryptocurrency’s network value. Interest in ripple is only growing, regardless of market metrics. Of course, one thing that depresses the price of XRP is the relative plenitude of its tokens.

Brad Garlinghouse said of the new additions to RippleNet:

In 2018, nearly 100 financial institutions joined RippleNet, and we’re now signing two—sometimes three—new customers per week. We also saw a 350 percent increase last year in customers sending live payments, and we’re beginning to see more customers flip the switch and leverage XRP for on-demand liquidity. At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure our customers can provide excellent, efficient cross-border payments experiences for their customers, wherever they are in the world.

In reality, positiveness around XRP increases as more government regulation enters the crypto markets. Most importantly, it seeks to be a regulatory-compliant cryptocurrency. In other words, XRP is regulatory friendly in order to be bank friendly. Banks and financial institutions are its target market.

Brad Garlinghouse image from Ripple/YouTube. Chart from TradingView.

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BP Finds a Billion Barrels of Oil, Analysts Say Shares are a ‘Buy’


bp gas oilbp gas oil

Using advanced technology, BP has discovered new oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico. Many analysts are showing confidence in the stock and Goldman Sachs has reissued its “buy” rating for BP shares.

BP Finds New Oil in Thunder Horse Fields

Revealed today, BP has found 1 billion more barrels of crude oil at an already explored oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a payoff for BP after the petroleum company invested in advanced seismic exploration and data processing technology.

BP’s oil output from its Thunder Horse region will now double compared to output five years ago. The new technology utilized by BP meant it was able to analyze data from its Thunder Horse oil field in weeks instead of a year.

Bernard Looney, BP’s chief executive for production and exploration, said:

We are building on our world-class position, upgrading the resources at our fields through technology, productivity and exploration success.

BP also plans to spend $1.3 billion to develop its Atlantis field near New Orleans where it found a further 400 million barrels of oil. The giant is also reporting further new discoveries at its Manuel prospect, a site where Shell holds a 50% stake.

Time to Buy BP Stock? Analysts Say Yes

BP’s share price has risen steadily since the end of December and has fluctuated throughout today.

BP Share Price for the Last Six Months Source: TradingView

Analysts are increasingly positive on the British company. On Monday Goldman Sachs Group reissued a “buy” rating for BP stock. UBS Group reinstated its “buy” rating for the stock, and Raymond James upgraded to an “outperform” rating on Tuesday.

Deutsche Bank reduced its price target but also set a “buy” rating. The consensus from analysts currently sits at 18 out of 32 providing a “buy” rating with just one expecting the stock to underperform.

Zacks Equity Research yesterday said that BP could beat its earnings estimates again. The company has set a recent trend of exceeding expectations. In the last two quarterly reports, it beat estimates by an average of over 16%.

Elsewhere in the markets today, Goldman Sachs stock failed to follow a green flush on the Dow Jones this morning. The Dow, however, continued to hold pre-trading gains on news from Donald Trump that trade talks with China are progressing well. The iconic American brand Sears may also have been saved at the final hour with a last minute agreement from Eddie Lampart and ESL Investments.

Featured Image from Shutterstock

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Anti-Bitcoin JP Morgan CEO Dimon: Dow Climbing, No Recession Ahead


Jamie Dimon Bitcoin dowJamie Dimon Bitcoin dow

Jamie Dimon — the anti-bitcoin CEO of JPMorgan Chase — says a global recession is not coming, so everyone needs to “take a deep breath” and chill out.

Dimon said the Dow and other stock market indices are merely experiencing a temporary hiccup, but that doesn’t mean the US economy will slide into a recession anytime soon.

Dimon to Everyone: ‘Take a Deep Breath’

“It looks to me like a slowdown [not a recession],” Dimon told Fox Business (video below). “Sentiment changed dramatically for a whole bunch of different reasons. But the United States is still growing, at 2.5%. We just had some good wage data.”

It’s very possible we have a slowdown. People [should] take a deep breath. Things will open up a little bit.

Dimon said the recent stock market slump occurred due to concerns about rising interest rates and a potential US trade war with China. But things have calmed down since then, and the market has rebounded nicely.

Despite the recent market turmoil, the US economy is in good shape at the moment. The unemployment rate has plunged to a 48-year-low, and 312,000 jobs were added in December 2018 — far more than the 177,000 that were expected.

“It looks like there will be growth,” Dimon said. “It’s not like we’re going into a global recession. We’re going to have maybe slower growth than people expected a couple of months ago.”

Moreover, Jamie Dimon says that US consumer sentiment is in “good shape” and will continue to improve.

“If you look at actual data, people are getting jobs, more people [are] working, wages going up,” Dimon explained. “Household balance sheet in very good shape, credit card credit — extraordinarily good. It’s better than we deserve at this point in the cycle.”

On Jan. 8, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 23,787, up 256 points, continuing a five-day rally.

dow jones industrial average close jan 8dow jones industrial average close jan 8

Canadian Economist: 80% Chance of US Recession

Dimon’s bullish outlook differs sharply from the bearish projections of Canadian economist David Rosenberg, a strategist with Gluskin Sheff, a Toronto investment firm.

As CCN reported, Rosenberg isn’t impressed by the Dow’s recent recovery. In fact, he claims there’s an 80% chance that the US will fall into a recession, bringing the global economy down with it.

“We’ve got more than 80% chance of recession just based on the fact the Fed is tightening policy,” Rosenberg told CNBC (video below).

For the record, in 2017, Rosenberg predicted that the US economy would crash down in 2018, but that did not happen.

Rosenberg placed much of the blame for the purported forthcoming recession on Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The Fed has raised interest rates seven times during President Donald Trump’s two-year presidency. In contrast, the Fed hiked rates just once during Barack Obama’s eight years in office.

Powell received widespread criticism after the Fed hiked interest rates for the fourth time in 2018, causing the stock market to tumble and spurring fears of a recession.

Bitcoin Proponent Ron Paul: Abolish the Fed!

Retired US Congressman Ron Paul — the father of current US Senator Rand Paul — reacted by renewing his calls to abolish the Federal Reserve.

Amid volcanic backlash from many sides, Powell softened his stance. On January 4 — two weeks after hiking rates for the fourth time in 2018 — Powell promised to be “flexible” and sensitive to how repeated rate hikes could tank the stock market.

“We’re listening carefully, with sensitivity to the message that the markets are sending,” Powell vowed Jan. 4. “And we’ll be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward.”

Crypto Exec: 2019 Will Be Epic

Meanwhile, in Crypto Land, many executives remain bullish about bitcoin and expect a watershed 2019 for the industry.

As CCN reported, Travis Scher — a vice president at crypto investment firm Digital Currency Group — expects an influx of institutional investments this year amid an industry-wide consolidation.

“This is very real  —  companies like Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, and ICE are publicly making big moves in the space,” Scher said. “The change-averse corporate executives who have derided crypto will be embarrassed when their dismissive quotes resurface down the line.”

Featured image from Flickr/Fortune Global Forum

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Could Japans Approval of the Bitcoin ETF Affect US SECs Decision?


Japan bitcoin etf cryptocurrencyJapan bitcoin etf cryptocurrency

On January 7, CCN reported that the Financial Services Agency (FSA) of Japan is considering the approval of the country’s first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

With the final deadline of the VanEck Bitcoin ETF on the horizon, could the approval of a Bitcoin ETF in Japan have an impact on the decision of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)?

Probability of a Bitcoin ETF in US

The probability of the approval of a Bitcoin ETF in the U.S. by February remains low. A pro-crypto SEC commissioner Hester Peirce previously said that investors should not wait on a Bitcoin ETF because it may take days or years for the commission to approve it.

Whether the ETF gets approved or not, the filing of a VanEck ETF will provide more clarity on the subject.

In the second half of 2018, the SEC rejected 12 Bitcoin ETFs submitted by the Winklevoss twins and three other companies. The Winklevoss twins attempted to launch an ETF using cryptocurrency exchanges to calculate the base price of the asset and the three companies relied on the Bitcoin futures market to develop an ETF.

All 11 filings were rejected by the SEC because it believed that both exchanges and the futures market are not of significant size.

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Many bulls are confident a U.S. Bitcoin ETF approval would spur a cryptocurrency market recovery.

The VanEck ETF uses data from the over-the-counter (OTC) market, which is said to be bigger than the cryptocurrency exchange market in terms of volume and trading activity.

Regardless of the result, it will lead the SEC to evaluate the global cryptocurrency OTC market and also consider the tightening regulatory frameworks in major overseas markets.

Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malta, and other regions have implemented strict policies on Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML), monitoring suspicious transactions and disallowing anonymous accounts from trading cryptocurrencies.

In late November of last year, SEC chairman Jay Clayton said that safeguards and technologies to prevent suspicious transactions are non-existent in overseas markets.

Clayton said:

Those kinds of safeguards don’t exist in many of the markets where digital currencies trade.

With the lead of Japan and the G20’s move to regulate cryptocurrencies, many major Bitcoin and crypto asset markets have implemented various safeguards. Some regions like South Korea have implemented stricter rules than the U.S., specifically on the prohibition of foreigners and unidentified individuals from trading cryptocurrencies with the Korean won.

Could Japan Sway the SEC?

If a Bitcoin ETF is approved in Japan before the U.S., there exists a possibility that it may lead the U.S. government to approve a Bitcoin ETF in its local market.

Japan remains as the only country to have integrated a national licensing program for cryptocurrency exchanges, only allowing a handful of exchanges that are fully compliant with existing regulations to operate within the country.

Currently, the time frame of the FSA’s decision on the approval of Bitcoin ETFs is uncertain and it may also take many months for the government to come to a consensus on the subject.

Featured Image from Shutterstock. Price Charts from TradingView.

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Calling Crypto a ‘Harsh Mistress,’ ShapeShift Announces Major Layoffs


shapeshift crypto exchangeshapeshift crypto exchange

ShapeShift exchange has become the latest in a string of cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to announce major layoffs due to the ongoing cryptocurrency bear market.

In a Medium post entitled “Overcoming ShapeShift’s Crypto Winter and the Path Ahead,” Erik Voorhees detailed several different factors behind the change of course and stated that one-third of the workforce is being laid off, 37 employees in total.

ShapeShift’s Crypto Winter

The ShapeShift CEO cited many reasons, chief among them being the heavy exposure of the company assets to cryptocurrency.

As a company, our greatest and worst financial decision is the same: to embrace substantial exposure to crypto assets. Much of our balance sheet is comprised of them. We accept the volatility, we accept the risk.

However, the crypto-crash is not the only factor in the layoffs. Voorhees also explained that the company had diversified into too many products too soon, creating CoinCap, acquiring the KeepKey wallet, and launching a number of other initiatives which all consumed time, money, and focus. Voorhees added that Shapeshift’s core business wasn’t sufficiently nurtured, saying “I can lay this mistake at nobody’s feet but my own.”

Beyond that, the exchange made the controversial decision last year to implement KYC measures due to regulatory pressure, requiring users to submit and verify their identities.  As covered by CCN, this was an understandable but unpopular move which drew widespread criticism from ShapeShift customers and commentators.

Voorhees stated in the blog post that the implementation of KYC took a financial and psychological toll, with many API partners leaving for “competitors who have not perceived regulatory risks in the same way.”

It is worth noting that while Voorhees has publicly lamented the imposition of KYC, he does not cite it as one of the mistakes made by the company in this recent post, and has consistently maintained that it was a regrettable but necessary action due to tightening regulatory pressure. ShapeShift’s CTO has discussed regulation with CCN in the past, stating that US regulation had “gotten worse.”

Growing Too Fast

ShapeShift reportedly grew a staggering 3,000% in 2017, and Voorhees candidly stated today that the company physically outgrew the abilities and experiences of the leadership to manage the size of the team. With the team growing from the founders to 10, 20, to 125 people, the company scaled too fast while also tackling too many new projects.

With such meteoric growth came close regulatory scrutiny and legal issues.

So we started exploring every nuance of complex financial services regulation. As we stepped into this mire, immense legal bills and risk assessment forced resources to be diverted away from important parts of the company.

Voorhees said “it is the confluence of these issues combined with our own lack of product focus that resulted in today’s layoff.”

Moving Forward

Voorhees concluded the post stating that the exchange would be focusing on pain points faced by crypto traders in trusting third-party exchanges with funds, saying the company aims to fix the “tragic” custodial risk inherent in trading cryptocurrencies. He stated that the company has been “weaving the new ShapeShift into existence,” perhaps hinting at an upcoming ShapeShift DEX or custodianship service. Finally, the CEO wished his departing employees “good fortune and good grace,” apologizing earlier in the piece for the loss of their jobs.

ShapeShift declined to comment on the recent layoffs when contacted – the situation is mirrored in similar layoffs with other major companies in the space like ConsenSys and Steemit.

Featured Image from Shutterstock

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President Trump Makes His Case for a Border Wall as Economy Hangs in the Balance


Donald Trump delivered his first prime-time address from the Oval Office Tuesday evening, speaking directly to the American people about the need to for a planned border wall with Mexico. The speech came mere hours after Senate Democrats prevented the chamber from considering bipartisan legislation in an attempt to pressure GOP lawmakers to reopen the government.

Trump Addresses America

President Trump makes his case for a $5.7 billion wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

In a speech that lasted roughly eight minutes, President Trump made one of his strongest cases yet for increased border protection, including the need to prevent illegal drugs, gang members and criminals from entering America unlawfully. Trump called the situation on the southern border as a “humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.”

Although the address wasn’t too dissimilar from his previous arguments in favor of a border wall, it came at a critical time for Congress and the nation as a whole. That’s because the federal government has been partially shutdown for over two weeks. Trump has promised to keep it partially closed until Congress approves nearly $6 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border. Until now, Democrats have refused to budge on the border wall, which has blocked the formation of a new budget and put government services on hold.

The president is planning to visit the southern border later this week, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

According to the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, 51% of Americans believe Trump “deserves most of the blame” for the government shutdown. That’s up 4 percentage points from a week earlier.

Businesses are Struggling

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called on Congress to end the government shutdown to prevent the pain from spreading beyond federal payrolls. With federal employees set to miss their first full paycheck on Friday, a prolonged shutdown could soon impact American businesses.

“The shutdown is harming the American people, the business community, and the economy,” Chamber executive vice president Neil Bradley told Congress in a letter, according to CNN. “The adverse consequences of the shutdown are wide and growing.”

Federal spending accounts for roughly one-fifth of gross domestic product (GDP), which means that a prolonged disruption could undermine economic growth – one of Trump’s core mandates.

On Monday, the Trump administration agreed to let the IRS pay out tax refunds if the government shutdown extends into filing season. The decision is intended to lessen the burden on American households by allowing hundreds of billions of dollars to flow to taxpayers.

The U.S. economy outperformed in the first six months of 2018 thanks to a combination of tax cuts and softer regulations. These efforts helped push GDP growth north of 3% and unemployment toward 50-year lows. While growth slowed in the latter half of the year, job creation and wages remained elevated. Employers added 312,000 workers in December as average hourly earnings rose 3.2% annually, the fastest since 2009.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Bitcoin Price in Near-term Bias Conflict as $4,000-Resistance Teases


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The bitcoin price consolidated this Thursday as $4,000-level continued to block the rally from a breakout attempt.

The bitcoin-to-dollar exchange rate dropped as much as 5.36 percent of its value since its yesterday’s high at $3,971. The pair at press time is correcting higher on moderate volumes, up 0.71 percent from its intraday low at $3,758. The US dollar rate is posting minor losses owing to poor export data from the US markets. But its benefits are visibly going to the Japanese yen the most.

Bitcoin is heading towards the neckline formation of the inverse head and shoulder pattern in blue, clearly complimenting the selling sentiment below $4,000. Also acting as a strong resistance is the 50-period moving average depicted in navy blue.

BITCOIN 1D CHART | SOURCE: COINBASE, TRADINGVIEW.COM

So far, a breakout attempt is looking less likely to happen on every pullback action. At worst, bitcoin could form a double bottom above $3,000 or extend its bearish momentum to establish a new two-year low. Under an ideal circumstance, bitcoin could continue to consolidate sideways inside the current range, bringing the market to a bias-conflict scenario.

The RSI momentum indicator since July 2018 has not crossed above 60, a bullish zone. It is creating higher highs ever since bottoming out in December 2018, now awaiting a breakout or pullback action, also confirming the beginning of a near-term bias-conflict.

Bitcoin Intraday Targets

The bitcoin price action as of now is following a minor uptrend, setting its upside target towards the neckline, as discussed above. Our intraday strategy is more focused on historical levels to get in and out of the market on small profits. We are treating the rising trendline of the right shoulder as our indication to apply our intrarange strategy.

BITCOIN 4H CHART | SOURCE: COINBASE, TRADINGVIEW.COM

That said, if bitcoin breaks below the blue rising trendline, then it would have us open a short position towards our immediate downside target defined by the 200-period moving average. A further break and we’ll extend our downside target to $3,567. In both the cases, our stop-loss order will be maintained just 1-pip above the entry position.

If bitcoin continues to form higher highs while staying above the rising trendline, then we will wait for the price to break above the neckline. As it does, we will open one long order towards $4,000 as our interim upside target. A stop loss just 1-pip below the entry position would maintain our risk management strategy.

Trade safely!

Featured Image from Shutterstock. Charts from TradingView.

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