Crypto Finance Company: Bitcoin Could Boom as China Stocks ...

Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Wealth Formula Episode 179: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/179-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
submitted by Buck_Joffrey to u/Buck_Joffrey [link] [comments]

A Look at DCG & Bitfury's Incestuous Ties With the U.S. Government

Peter Todd Tweet in 2014: https://archive.is/vKZ9C
[email protected] I gotta say, looks really bad legally how Austin Hill's been negotiating deals w/ pools/etc. to get control of hashing power.
Board of Digital Currency Group
Glenn Hutchins
Advisory Board
Larry Summers
DCG of course is an investor in both Blockstream and BTCC.
DCG's money comes from:
DCG also owns Coindesk.
BTCC and Bitfury are the only two large mining pools who are outspoken in their support of Bitcoin Core.
The Bitfury Group Leadership to Present at Clinton Global Initiative (https://archive.is/MWKee)
Full Video (Begins at 32:00)
“The Bitfury Group is proud to be the world’s leading full service Blockchain technology company, we are deeply honored to represent this innovation to an audience of extremely dedicated game-changers, and we look forward to highlighting our company’s groundbreaking ‘Blockchain for global good’ work at such an important event, said Smith. “From the White House to the Blockchain, I know this technology has the power to deliver inclusion and opportunity to millions, if not billions, of people around the world and I am so grateful to work for a company focused on such a principled vision.”
Bitfury Lightning Implementation
  • In partnership with a French firm called ACINQ (http://acinq.co)
  • ACINQ is a subsidiary of the larger ACINQ Financial Services
  • CoinTelegraph: Bitfury Lightning Network Successfully Tested With French Bitcoin Company
  • TEAM: https://archive.is/Q5CNU
  • ACINQ’s US Headquarters is in Vienna, Virginia, a small town of only 16,000. Why would a global financial firm choose to locate here? -- Feeder community into Washington, D.C. Has an orange line metro stop. -- Located in Fairfax County, VA. -- The US Federal Government is the #2 largest employer -- Booz Allen Hamilton (NSA front company) is #6 largest employer -- In fact, most of the top employers in Fairfax County are either US Federal Gov’t or companies that provide services to Federal Government -- The county is home to the headquarters of intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office, as well as the National Counterterrorism Center and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Chairman: Avinash Vashistha
CEO: Chaman Baid
CSO: Nandan Setlur
  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/nandansetlur https://archive.is/wp3L0
  • From 1986-1993 he worked for Information Management Consultants (imc) Ltd as a Technical Consultant with various federal government agencies. McLean, Virginia
  • 1993-2000 Technical Consultant for Freddie Mac, in McLean Virginia
  • From 2000-2007, President of InterPro Global in Maryland
  • From 2011-2012, Director of VibbleTV in Columbia, Maryland
  • From 2008-Present has been Executive Director at ACINQ and Managing Partner at Vine Management, both in Vienna, Virginia.
BitFury Enhances Its Advisory Board by Adding Former CFTC Chairman Dr. James Newsome and Renowned Global Thought Leader and President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy Hernando de Soto (Businesswire)
Bitfury Board of Directors
Robert R Dykes
The other board members include two Bitfury founders, and an investor.
Bitfury Advisory Board
James Newsome
  • Ex-chairman of CFTC
  • Dr. Newsome was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to be at first a Commissioner and later a Chairman of CFTC. As Chairman, Newsome guided the regulation of the nation’s futures markets. Additionally, Newsome led the CFTC’s regulatory implementation of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA). He also served as one of four members of the President’s Working Group for Financial Markets, along with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairmen of the Federal Reserve and the SEC. In 2004, Newsome assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) where he managed daily operations of the largest physical derivatives exchange in the world. Dr. Newsome is presently a founding partner of Delta Strategy Group, a full-service government affairs firm based in Washington, DC.
Hernando de Soto
  • Hernando de Soto heads the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, named by The Economist one of the two most important think tanks in the world. In the last 30 years, he and his colleagues at the ILD have been involved in designing and implementing legal reform programs to empower the poor in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations by granting them access to the same property and business rights that the majority of people in developed countries have through the institutions and tools needed to exercise those rights and freedoms. Mr. de Soto also co-chaired with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, and currently serves as honorary co-chair on various boards and organizations, including the World Justice Project. He is the author of “The Other Path: the Economic Answer to Terrorism”, and his seminal work “The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.”
  • Frequent attendee at Davos World Economic Forum
  • Frequent Speaker @ Clinton Global Initiative http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2ytfrs https://archive.is/MWKee
  • Criticisms: -- In his 'Planet of Slums'[104] Mike Davis argues that de Soto, who Davis calls 'the global guru of neo-liberal populism', is essentially promoting what the statist left in South America and India has always promoted—individual land titling. Davis argues that titling is the incorporation into the formal economy of cities, which benefits more wealthy squatters but is disastrous for poorer squatters, and especially tenants who simply cannot afford incorporation into the fully commodified formal economy. -- An article by Madeleine Bunting for The Guardian (UK) claimed that de Soto's suggestions would in some circumstances cause more harm than benefit, and referred to The Mystery of Capital as "an elaborate smokescreen" used to obscure the issue of the power of the globalized elite. She cited de Soto's employment history as evidence of his bias in favor of the powerful. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2000/sep/11/imf.comment http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/hey_wait_a_minute/2005/01/the_de_soto_delusion.html
Tomicah Tilleman
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomicah_Tillemann
  • Dr. Tomicah Tillemann is Director of the Bretton Woods II initiative. The initiative brings together a variety of long-term investors, with the goal of committing 1% of their assets to social impact investment and using investments as leverage to encourage global good governance. Tillemann served at the U.S. State Department in 2010 as the Senior Advisor on Civil Society and Emerging Democracies to Secretary Hillary Clinton and Secretary John Kerry. Tillemann came to the State Department as a speechwriter to Secretary Clinton in March 2009. Earlier, he worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he was the principal policy advisor on Europe and Eurasia to Committee Chairmen, Senators Joe Biden and John Kerry. He also facilitated the work of the Senate's Subcommittee on European Affairs, then chaired by Senator Barack Obama. Tillemann received his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University. He holds a Ph.D. with distinction from the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) where he also served as a graduate level instructor in American foreign policy. http://live.worldbank.org/node/8468 https://archive.is/raDHA
  • Secretary Clinton appointed Tomicah Tillemann, Ph.D. as the State Department’s Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies in October 2010. He continues his service under Secretary Kerry.
  • Mr. Tillemann and his team operate like venture capitalists, identifying ideas that can strengthen new democracies and civil society, and then bring together the talent, technology and resources needed to translate promising concepts into successful diplomacy. He and his team have developed over 20 major initiatives on behalf of the President and Secretary of State.
  • Mr. Tillemann came to the State Department as a speechwriter to Secretary Clinton in March 2009 and collaborated with her on over 200 speeches. Earlier, he worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he was the principal policy advisor on Europe and Eurasia to Committee Chairmen, Senators Joe Biden and John Kerry. He also facilitated the work of the Senate's Subcommittee on European Affairs, then chaired by Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Tillemann’s other professional experience includes work with the White House Office of Media Affairs and five U.S. Senate and Congressional campaigns. He was a reporter with Reuters New Media and hosted a commercial radio program in Denver, Colorado. http://m.state.gov/md160354.htm https://www.newamerica.org/our-people/tomicah-tillemann/ https://archive.is/u2yF0
  • Director of “Bretton Woods II” initiative at New America Foundation Bretton Woods was an international summit that led to the creation of the IMF and the IBRD, one of five members of The World Bank
Jamie Smith
Jason Weinstein
Paul Brody (no longer appears on site, and his LinkedIn has no mention of Bitfury, but he is mentioned in a Press Release
  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/pbrody
  • Ernst & Young since 2015 as “Americas Strategy Leader”, “Global Innovation Leader”, and “Solution Leader”
  • Prior to E&Y, he was an executive at IBM since 2002
New America Foundation
Muskoka Group
[note: this is worthy of much more research]
  • https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-29/blockchain-s-backers-embark-on-campaign-to-improve-its-image
  • Don Tapscott, co-author of the book “Blockchain Revolution,” hosted the meeting with his son and co-author Alex Tapscott at his family’s summer compound in Lake of Bays, Ontario. The group included some of blockchain’s biggest backers, including people with ties to IBM and JPMorgan. They considered ways to improve the governance and oversight of the technology behind the digital currency bitcoin as a way to fuel the industry’s growth. They included Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation; Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Hyperledger Project, a blockchain supporter group that includes International Business Machines Corp., Airbus Group SE and JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and Ana Lopes, board member of the World Wide Web Foundation. Participants with blockchain industry ties include former deputy White House press secretary Jamie Smith, now chief global communications officer of BitFury Group Ltd., and Joseph Lubin, founder of startup Consensus Systems.
Blockchain Delegation Attends Democratic National Convention https://archive.is/k16Nu
Attendees:
Jamie Smith — The Bitfury Group & Blockchain Trust Accelerator Tomicah Tillemann— New America Foundation & Blockchain Trust Accelerator Alex Tapscott— co-author: Blockchain Revolution Brian Forde — MIT, Digital Currency Initiative
Brian Forde
  • Was the founding director of the MIT Digital Currency Initiative -Left his 4 year post as White House Senior Advisor for Mobile and Data Innovation to go directly to the MIT DCI
  • Brian Forde has spent more than a decade at the nexus of technology, entrepreneurship, and public policy. He is currently the Director of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab where he leads efforts to mainstream digital currencies like Bitcoin through research, and incubation of high-impact applications of the emerging technology. Most recently he was the Senior Advisor for Mobile and Data Innovation at the White House where he spearheaded efforts to leverage emerging technologies to address the President’s most critical national priorities. Prior to his work at the White House, Brian founded one of the largest phone companies in Nicaragua after serving as a business and technology volunteer in the Peace Corps. In recognition of his work, Brian was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the ten most influential people in bitcoin and blockchain. https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianforde https://archive.is/WjEGU
Alex Tapscott
World Economic Forum
  • Strategic Partners: https://www.weforum.org/about/strategic-partners
  • Includes Accenture (See Avinash Vashistha), Allianz, Deloitte (Scaling Bitcoin platinum sponsor, Blockstream Partner), Citigroup, Bain & Company (parent of Bain Capital, DCG investor), Dalian Wanda Group (working on blockchain technology), Ernst & Young (see Paul Brody), HSBC (Li-Ka Shing, Blockstream investor, used to be Deputy Chairman of HSBC), IBM, KPMG International, Mastercard (DCG Investor), PwC (Blockstream partner, also sponsor of Scaling Bitcoin)
  • Future of Financial Services Report [PDF] The word “blockchain” is mentioned once in this document, on page 23 (http://i.imgur.com/1SxyneJ.png): We have identified three major challenge areas related to innovation in financial services that will require multi-stakeholder collaboration to be addressed effectively. We are launching a project stream related to each area, with the goal of enabling tangible impact.... Decentralised systems, such as the blockchain protocol, threaten to disintermediate almost every process in financial services
  • The Steering Group who authored the report is a who’s who of the global financial elite. (Pages 4 & 5) http://i.imgur.com/fmYc1bO.png http://i.imgur.com/331FaX6.png
Bitfury Washington DC Office
Washington DC Office 600 Pennsylvania Avenue Suite 300 Washington, D.C. 20003
http://bitfury.com/contacts https://archive.is/ugvII
Bitfury Chosen for Ernst & Young Blockchain Startup Challenge
Deloitte Unveils Plan to Build Blockchain-Based Digital Bank http://www.consultancy.uk/news/12237/deloitte-unveils-plan-to-build-blockchain-based-digital-bank https://archive.is/UJ8Q5
submitted by 5zh8FoCiZ to btc [link] [comments]

The United Nations set up a digital group research blockchain. Ma Yun Gates is co-chairman.

The United Nations set up a digital group research blockchain. Ma Yun Gates is co-chairman.
The United Nations established a digital group research blockchain, and Ma Yun Gates served as co-chair of the group
The UN News Center announced on July 12 that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres established the "United Nations Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation" and clearly proposed to put blockchain technology on the agenda of the group.
It is reported that the group will bring together 20 celebrities from all walks of life to strengthen cooperation in the digital field by governments, the private sector, civil society, international organizations, technology and academia, and other relevant stakeholders. According to the news, the Secretary-General has announced the appointment of Melinda Gates (Mr. Bill Gates, Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Fund Opportunity) and Ma Yun as co-chairman of the group.
The United Nations has been exploring the application of blockchain technology in humanitarian applications.
In April of this year, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) began using blockchain technology to assist Syrian refugees, benefiting 10,000 people. In addition, the United Nations has implemented a digital identity system based on blockchain technology to combat global trafficking in children.
Gates keeps a distance from Bitcoin, but Microsoft has a long-term layout of the blockchain.
During Reddit Ask Me Anything in February this year, Bill Gates sneered at the cryptocurrency. Gates attacked the anonymity of virtual currency because they hindered the identification of anti-money laundering, anti-terrorist financing, and anti-tax evasion. In an interview with CNBC's Squawk Box, he said, "If there is a simple method, he will short the bitcoin."
But on the other hand, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been supporting blockchain projects, especially in Africa. In 2015, the foundation donated $100,000 to the Kenya Bitcoin merchant payment platform Bitsoko. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been driving the development of virtual currency in Africa because they can provide low-cost trading services for the poor.
In addition, Microsoft's layout in the blockchain field is also deep. In 2015, Microsoft launched the "Azure Blockchain as a Service (BaaS)" program. The program introduces blockchain technology to the Azure cloud computing platform to serve financial industry customers using Azure cloud services, allowing users to tailor their blockchain services to their business and innovation needs. In 2016, Microsoft further relied on Azure cloud services to launch the “Open, Modular Blockchain Component” program, using Microsoft's own architecture to create a blockchain enterprise ecosystem, and open a series of blockchain agreements to address early cross-spans. The problem of industry blockchain users is integrated in terms of platform openness, user identity, key management, privacy security, operations management and interactivity. In May of this year, Microsoft released the Azure blockchain work platform at the Global Developers Conference, which has been used by hundreds of companies. In June of this year, Microsoft acquired GitHub, a world-renowned software hosting platform, with a $7.5 billion Microsoft stock. GitHub is an important gathering place for blockchain projects, with more than 80,000 blockchain projects. In addition, Microsoft has expanded its strategic partnership with R3 to integrate R3's distributed ledger platform, Corda and R3Net, with Azure. Microsoft has also strengthened cooperation with super-books, the United Nations, and Cornell University's blockchain research groups to conduct blockchain research.
Ali is also actively trying blockchain business, Ant Financial is a pioneer
In July 2016, Ant Financial Services joined the blockchain technology in Alipay's love donation platform; in October 2016, Ali Financial Cloud and Yicheng Interactive jointly launched “Yunyou Mall”; in the same month, with Microsoft, Xiao ant, Fa Da, etc. Co-developing “Law Chain”; cooperating with PricewaterhouseCoopers in March 2017 to build a traceable cross-border food supply chain; investing in Symbiont in May 2017; and in August 2017, Ali Health and Jiangsu Changzhou will cooperate The joint + blockchain pilot project; in October 2017, Ant Financial CTO first disclosed the "BASIC" strategy, B is the blockchain; in November 2017, Tmall International announced the upgrade of the global origin traceability plan; the same month, Ali built the digital Xiong'an blockchain implementation platform; in January 2018, the ant blockchain was launched, and Xiong'an built a blockchain rental application platform; in February 2018, the rookie and Tmall International enabled blockchain technology tracking Logistics full link information on imported goods; in June 2018, AlipayHK launched the world's first blockchain-based e-wallet cross-border remittance service.
Among them, the most important thing to ignore is the breakthrough of Ant Financial in the cross-border remittance service of e-wallet based on blockchain. As early as 2016, Ma Yun proposed eWTP to make Ali's business worldwide, which requires worldwide data flow, capital flow, and material flow. Aliyun is responsible for data flow, rookie logistics is responsible for material flow, and cross-border flow of funds is the task of Ant Financial.
In fact, Ant Financial's use of blockchain technology for cross-border remittances is a part of Alipay's globalization. In the form of acquisition or investment or cooperation, Ant Financial has covered Alipay's globalization strategy to more than 70 countries and regions. For example, in the eight countries of Southeast Asia, support local Alipay wallets: Touch’n Go in Malaysia, Emtek in Indonesia, GCash in the Philippines, Paytm in India, Easypaisa in Pakistan, BKash in Bangladesh, AscendMone in Thailand, and Hellopay in Singapore. There are also Kakao Pay in Korea and Telenor in Norway.
In addition, Alipay's international partners include Worldpay in the UK, Concardis and Wirecard in Germany, Ingenico in France, Recruit in Japan, ICB and KICC in Korea, Supay in Australia, Magic Compass and IE money in New Zealand, Webmoney and Qiwi in Russia, and Boleto in Brazil.
All in all, Alipay's globalization strategy has begun to take shape. From AlipayHK's launch of the world's first blockchain-based e-wallet cross-border remittance service, the use of blockchain technology to support cross-border remittances may be around the world. Each country's “local Alipay” node builds a blockchain solution for cross-border remittance services.
Invited to serve as co-chair of the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, Ma said that in the DT era, data and technology are more widely available, which is an opportunity for all young people, small businesses and women. He is happy to join and promote global cross-disciplinary cooperation to create a digital future for universal young people.
https://preview.redd.it/z3h92sq26aa11.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=929cd1312ab7be0c61bc4f2cb217f2dba6012a7b
submitted by LotoBlock to LotoBlock [link] [comments]

1/9 Tuesday's Stock Market Movers & News

Good morning traders of the StockMarket sub! Welcome to Tuesday! Here are your stock movers & news this morning-

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Frontrunning: January 9

STOCK FUTURES NOW:

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TODAY'S MARKET HEAT MAP:

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YESTERDAY'S S&P SECTORS:

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TODAY'S ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

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THIS WEEK'S ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

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THIS WEEK'S IPO'S:

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THIS WEEK'S EARNINGS CALENDAR:

($JPM $LEN $KBH $WFC $SCHN $HELE $BLK $AYI $DAL $FCEL $MSM $SVU $PNC $SNX $WDFC $SJR $SHLM $SMPL $EXFO $SAR $LMNR$SLP$PRGS $NTIC $VOXX $INFY)
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THIS MORNING'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS CALENDAR:

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N/A.

EARNINGS RELEASES BEFORE THE OPEN TODAY:

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EARNINGS RELEASES AFTER THE CLOSE TODAY:

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THIS MORNING'S ANALYST UPGRADES/DOWNGRADES:

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THIS MORNING'S INSIDER TRADING FILINGS:

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TODAY'S DIVIDEND CALENDAR:

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THIS MORNING'S MOST ACTIVE TRENDING DISCUSSIONS:

  • AGN
  • PYPL
  • MSFT
  • UAA
  • ETH.X
  • TGT
  • AKS
  • OSTK

THIS MORNING'S STOCK NEWS MOVERS:

(source: cnbc.com)
Under Armour — Analysts at Susquehanna downgraded the athletics apparel to "negative" from "neutral," noting the Under Armour brand remains at risk. "Given poor brand distribution decisions, we believe UAA risks are becoming more like Reebok than Nike," analysts said.

STOCK SYMBOL: UAA

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Target — Target shares popped more than 4 percent in the premarket after the retailer reported stronger-than-expected sales for the holiday season. Target also raised its full-year outlook.

STOCK SYMBOL: TGT

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Amazon — Piper Jaffray hiked its price target on the e-commerce giant's stock to $1,400 from $1,200, representing a 12.3 percent upside from Monday's close. "Looking at data on overall holiday retail spend in the U.S. vs. our estimated Amazon domestic holiday GMV [gross merchandise value] suggests only low-to-mid single digit penetration for the company. The conclusion is that Amazon … is arguably still in the early innings of its share-gain potential."

STOCK SYMBOL: AMZN

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Allergan — Allergan issued weaker-than-expected guidance for fiscal 2018. CEO Brent Saunders attributing the weak expectations to "loss of exclusivity revenue headwinds in 2018."

STOCK SYMBOL: AGN

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Urban Outfitters — Urban Outfitter's stock dropped nearly 5 percent before the bell on the back of disappointing holiday sales.

STOCK SYMBOL: URBN

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Seagate Technology — The hardware technology company issued gross margin, revenue and shipment guidance that surpassed analyst expectations. Seagate shares got a 7.1 percent boost in the previous session on a report that the company invested in Ripple, which owns the cryptocurrency XRP.

STOCK SYMBOL: STX

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Berkshire Hathaway — Warren Buffett's conglomerate is set to take a $37 billion windfall from the recent tax-code overhaul. The boost results from Berkshire lowering its tax liability on appreciated investments, according to Barclays.

STOCK SYMBOL: BRK.A

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Intel — Intel unveiled its first autonomous car at the CES expo in Las Vegas. The car is the first in its 100-vehicle test fleet.

STOCK SYMBOL: INTC

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PayPal — Analysts at Cowen upgraded the payments platform's stock to "outperform" from "market perform" and raised their price target to $88 from $67. "We believe most of the bear theses have not and will not play out … while PYPL's growth trajectory remains among the most compelling in the Payments space."

STOCK SYMBOL: PYPL

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Alibaba — Founder Jack Ma said Alibaba will "seriously consider" listing shares in the Hong Kong stock market.

STOCK SYMBOL: BABA

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FULL DISCLOSURE:

bigbear0083 has no positions in any stocks mentioned. Reddit, moderators, and the author do not advise making investment decisions based on discussion in these posts. Analysis is not subject to validation and users take action at their own risk. bigbear0083 is an admin at the financial forums Stockaholics.net where this content was originally posted.

DISCUSS!

What is on everyone's radar for today's trading day ahead here at StockMarket?

I hope you all have an excellent trading day ahead today on this Tuesday, January 9th, 2018! :)

submitted by bigbear0083 to StockMarket [link] [comments]

Warren Buffet's Bitcoin Interview  CNBC - YouTube Bill Miller on Investing in Bitcoin - January 19th Interview Preview On the eve of earnings, it's a tale of two markets When Bitcoin Hit $100: CNBC's 2013 Coverage - YouTube Bitcoin Futures Trading Launches With Big Rally  CNBC

As regulators in the U.S. and South Korea clamp down on cryptocurrencies, and investors question the stability of digital coins, bitcoin may see its worst monthly decline in value since January 2015. But bitcoin did hit a low of $9,627.89 on Wednesday, which represented a 28.2 percent decline. So far, this is the biggest monthly decline since a fall of 30.9 percent in January 2015. In fact ... U.S. stocks, of course, are not Chinese stocks. But a slowdown in the U.S. should correspond with a slowdown in China — and vice-versa. Featured Image from Shutterstock Price tags: xbtusd, btcusd, btcusdt Charts from TradingView.com Crypto Finance Firm: Bitcoin Could Boom as China Stocks Pass 2015's Highs Bitcoin history for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. Bitcoin price chart since 2009 to 2019. The historical data and rates of BTC ... But bitcoin did hit a low of $9,627.89 on Wednesday, which represented a 28.2 percent decline. So far, this is the biggest monthly decline since a fall of 30.9 percent in January 2015. In fact, January is typically a bad month for bitcoin — the cryptocurrency has fallen in four out of five of the Januarys in the period between 2013 and 2017.

[index] [6196] [26072] [26886] [42161] [30225] [20695] [2258] [5779] [23949] [32313]

Warren Buffet's Bitcoin Interview CNBC - YouTube

FBN's Charles Payne on the decline in bitcoin prices and young people's investments in bitcoin as well as marijuana stocks. Coming up on Consuelo Mack WEALTHTRACK: Bitcoin, Amazon, and Google are three of the most profitable long-term holdings of legendary value investor Bill Miller. He shares his analysis of them ... Less than two years after it had been trading under $1, Bitcoin surged to more than $100 in the spring of 2013. CNBC's panel discussed the risks and benefits... Bitcoin is booming to it's highest price in a year and the Chart Master says it's heading straight for $10k $BTC. bitcoin Bitcoin cash Bitcoin atm bitcoin wa... Stocks, bonds and gold rally, as tech has its best month since 2015. With CNBC's Scott Wapner and the Fast Money traders, Tim Seymour, Brian Kelly, Dan Nathan and Guy Adami.

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