Day: September 4, 2019

Elliptic, A Crypto Forensic Startup, Raises $23 Million USD

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Elliptic

Elliptic, a British startup firm aimed at tracing suspicious crypto activity, has raised $23 million USD in a funding round led by SBI Holdings.

Elliptic to Expand into Asian Markets

The Series B funding round was led by Japanese financial institution SBI Holdings and will enable Elliptic to continue expansion into Asian markets where it has recently opened an office in Singapore and will open another in Japan this week. Elliptic CEO and founder James Smith cited Asia as a highly attractive market for the company due to its prominent crypto community and the fact that Asian regulators tend to be more technologically advanced than elsewhere in the world.

“The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Japanese Financial Services Agency are very well-versed in crypto. Japan has its own licensing scheme for exchanges; I think all that is really key to the growth of crypto because once you set the ground rules, then businesses can engage and innovate,” Smith told CoinDesk.

SBI to Incorporate Elliptic’s Technology into VC Trade

Elliptic has developed artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that are capable of tracing and locating suspicious transactions on blockchains. The company was founded in 2013 in London and had previously raised $12 million USD in five funding rounds. SBI was keen to get involved with the company as it has a number of crypto assets under its portfolio, including an exchange called VC Trade, which will incorporate Elliptic’s technology.

>> Walmart Deploys Blockchain Technology: Things You Need to Know

Elliptic is also looking beyond expansion into Asia with this investment, as it also has plans to develop a monitoring service for Facebook’s under-fire Libra network. Libra has received heavy criticism and scrutiny from regulators who question how they are meant to trust Facebook given the social media giant’s recent history of data misuse. Elliptic hopes to give somewhat of a helping hand to Libra by providing added transparency and security to the network.

Featured Image: DepositPhotos © iqoncept

Personal Finance Daily: The good news behind the trade war flooding the U.S. with soybeans and how Walmart’s decision to ban certain ammunition fills a vacuum left by a lack of state and federal laws

This post was originally published on this site

Happy Wednesday MarketWatchers. Don’t miss these top stories:

10 cities with up-and-coming coffee cultures

These emerging coffee scenes around the country are giving Portland, Ore., and Seattle a run for their money.

The trade war is flooding the U.S. with soybeans — luckily, they could be better for us than we thought

Soy protein is a better choice than animal-derived proteins, says one Harvard researcher.

My elderly father refuses to use his oxygen tank — will our stepmother get all his money if he dies without a will?

‘The only end-of-life planning he will allow is that we need to throw a big party and have the funeral at his church.’

My mother-in-law maxed out her credit cards and took out a reverse mortgage — how can we control her spending?

‘Her house has a reverse mortgage with negative equity and she just purchased a used car with a loan.’

This critical job can transform your elderly parents’ lives — yet it’s the lowest paid, most in-demand job in every U.S. state

CareerBuilder crunched data on the lucrative and not-so lucrative professions that are growing at a faster rate than the national average.

Walmart’s decision to ban certain ammunition fills vacuum left by lack of state and federal laws

‘It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,’ Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said this week.

This teen went blind and partially deaf after only eating Pringles, French fries and white bread for a decade

The British patient developed a nutritional deficiency that’s rare in developed countries.

Why brokerage accounts are becoming more popular

More Americans are turning to old-school taxable investment accounts.

The upside of renting for millennials

Renting isn’t all bad. Here’s how to make it work for you to reach your financial goals sooner.

USC parent suggests university’s favorable treatment of ‘special interest’ students is bribery by another name

A father who has been ensnared in the University of Southern California college cheating scandal claims that there is a “universitywide” pay-to-play program that rewards big donors at the school, a report said.

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Trump talks up potential deals with China, Iran

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Fed’s Beige Book finds steady or improving activity outside of manufacturing and farm sectors

Reports outside of manufacturing remained positive through the end of August, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book, which may ease fears that a recession is around the corner.

Fed’s Williams sees ‘less rosy’ outlook for U.S. economy

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Dudley: I picked a fight with Trump because the Fed didn’t stand up for itself

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Stopping climate change will be easier and cheaper than Democrats think

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Chicago mayor slams ‘Republican cowards’ over gun laws

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Chicago billionaire Sam Zell is raising cash to record levels in this dicey climate

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Here’s how to capitalize on the electric car revolution — without buying Tesla’s stock

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Global markets rally as Hong Kong’s Lam withdraws extradition bill that triggered protests

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Walmart Deploys Blockchain Technology: Things You Need to Know

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Walmart

Over the past few years, blockchain technology has become synonymous with cryptocurrencies, but it is important to note that the technology in itself has a wide variety of uses. Plenty of companies that have nothing to do with cryptocurrencies are now exploring ways in which to incorporate blockchain technology into operations. Walmart is one of those companies.

Important Update

In a new development, it has emerged that retail behemoth Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is now deploying blockchain technology in order to improve the system for food traceability. The whole system is based on proof of concept, and the company has tested the whole system twice.

The testing has been on done on two separate projects. The whole point of the use of such a system is to trace the origin of the food products that are being sold at Walmart. Considering the sheer size of Walmart’s operations, the use of such a system could prove to be a huge boost for the company. The first project was engaged in tracing the origins of all the variants of mangoes that were being sold in Walmart stores in the United States. The other one was to trace the source of pork that the company brings in from a range of Chinese outlets. Since the whole project is about food, traceability is a hugely important factor for the safety of the consumers.

>> Ethereum (ETH) Slumps 50% From Highs in 2019: What to Do Now?

However, the company has now expanded the whole project significantly and the system, known as Walmart’s Hyperledger Fabric, run on blockchain, can now trace as many as 25 different products. Moreover, the system can trace it from as many as five different suppliers. Walmart had been trying to install a traceability system for years, but it had not been able to do so, and now it seems that blockchain technology has come to the company’s rescue. The company is now going to incorporate all of its vegetable suppliers into the new system.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © felixtm

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Payments with Bitcoin

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are now a given. Whether you want them to or not, they will be gaining popularity every year. Obviously, it’s best to start learning about Bitcoin now. Here’s your ultimate guide to getting payments with Bitcoin.

Understand How Bitcoin Works

The first thing you must do is understand what Bitcoin is and how it works. As defined by BBC, “Bitcoin, often described as a cryptocurrency, a virtual currency or a digital currency – is a type of money that is completely virtual.”

You could say that it is an online version of cash that can be acquired in three ways:

  • Creating with a computer.
  • Buying with “real” money.
  • Selling things and getting paid with Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is not as popular as the usual money you are used to, but it is quickly being adopted by many big and small companies. However, you should still keep in mind that BTC is banned in some countries.

To put it simply, every Bitcoin is a computer file that is stored in a digital wallet app on a mobile or desktop device such as a computer or smartphone. You can send and receive Bitcoins or parts of Bitcoins to your digital wallet.

Every transaction is recorded in the blockchain, which is a public list. This makes this technology extremely secure as nobody can spend coins that aren’t theirs, copy coins, undo transactions, or perform other malicious actions.

Determine Your Storage Method

The next step is determining your storage method. This is very important as it will help you keep yourself protected from hackers. Moreover, this will also protect everyone else you communicate with while performing BTC transactions.

Of course, Bitcoin is already a very secure currency, but there have still been instances of theft when users stored their Bitcoins on unreliable websites. To avoid such situations, you must choose a platform that has a good reputation.

>> Ethereum (ETH) Slumps 50% From Highs in 2019: What to Do Now?

Open Your Bitcoin Wallet

You will have to open a mobile wallet that is an app supported both by Android and iOS. Some notable apps of such kind include Airbitz and Copay. Some mobile wallets can even provide you with discounts and special offers if you use them for making purchases on a daily basis.

Alternatively, you can set up a web wallet, also known as an online wallet. This option is better for those who are planning to convert their Bitcoin to a fiat (national) currency or trade it for other cryptocurrencies. BitGo and BTC.com are both examples of these.

It is important to keep in mind that there are other types of Bitcoin wallets and just like mobile and web wallets, they also have their own flaws. It is impossible to have an entirely secure wallet, but you can still choose something more or less reliable.

Promote On Your Website

After you’ve done all the technical parts, it’s time for you to get the word out about your Bitcoin acceptance. If you own a business, it would be a great idea to start accepting payments in Bitcoin, so make sure to promote this feature on your official website.

If you have already created your ICO paper, then it would be a great idea to get it in other languages. In fact, translating your ICO can give you extra exposure along with the one you already get from promoting your new Bitcoin acceptance feature on your website.

In case you don’t have an ICO paper and aren’t planning to get one, you can still promote your Bitcoin compatibility on your website. Here are a few ways you can do it:

  • Add a logo somewhere on your website that says that your website is crypto compatible.
  • For online stores, you could add a button for accepting Bitcoin payments.
  • Lastly, you can promote this new feature on your business’s social media profiles.

Get Help from Specialists

One of the ways to get Bitcoin is to mine it. However, this is a very difficult and complicated process that must not be carried out by a beginner. But even if you are not planning to mine Bitcoin, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from specialists concerning how you must manage your Bitcoin transactions.

Once you get advice from the experts in this industry, you will be able to conduct safer operations with a smaller risk of being hacked. Besides, you can get invaluable tips that you might not find as easily by simply searching online.

Alternatively, consider finding relevant courses online or offline that you can attend and learn how to manage Bitcoin step-by-step. It’s a great option for those who don’t want to keep surfing the Internet for the information they need on this topic.

>> Ripple Escrow Wallet Transfers Another 500 Million XRP to Company

Follow Best Practices

Lastly, there is no need for you to invent something new, as the best practices are the methods that have proven to be effective. Here are some techniques you should adopt to make your experience with Bitcoin a positive one:

  • Don’t store your Bitcoins in the same place you keep them in during the day while making transactions. Just like you would take out real money from the cash register at the end of the day, withdraw your Bitcoins and store them elsewhere when you are not using them.
  • Consider exchanging your Bitcoins for a national currency immediately after receiving them. It’s not a difficult process and can be carried out by anyone through a virtual exchange house.
  • Alternatively, get a hardware wallet for fully controlling your private keys and storing your currency offline. This will make it harder for hackers to get through to your money. Nevertheless, make sure you keep this hardware wallet in a safe place.
  • Take into account many factors when choosing your storage wallets. Consider such factors as the platform’s regulatory frameworks, interaction with fiduciary currencies, the fees charged by the platform, and the availability of customer support.
  • Back up your wallet once in a while to be ready in situations when both humans and computers fail. Prioritize this feature when choosing your platform. Use strong passwords and make sure that all your linked accounts are strongly protected as well.
  • Avoid scammers at all costs. Bitcoin is an attractive currency as it is fairly new and already very popular, so there are many inexperienced people trying to get started with it. Don’t fall for scammers who claim they have a magic tool to double your Bitcoins. It’s not true, and you will simply lose everything you have at the moment.
  • Remember about HODL, which means “hold your Bitcoins.” Many beginners don’t have the necessary skills to earn a lot with trades, so don’t buy into all the success stories. It takes time, effort, practice, and patience before you figure everything out.

Final Thoughts

All in all, even though Bitcoin is not a stable currency yet, it already costs a lot and has a fair share of the market. By investing in Bitcoin now, your future will be more determined, bright, and hopeful.

This article was curated through CryptoCurrencyNews’ Contributor Program. If you would like to write for us, send us your submission!

Featured image: DepositPhotos © makidotvn

Deep Dive: This ‘resilient’ dividend stock strategy can limit risks to your portfolio

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(This is the fifth in a series about dividend stocks in today’s low interest-rate environment based on interviews with professional investors. Links to the previous four articles are below.)

Why does a fund that has underperformed its benchmark for the past five, 10 and 15 years have $20.4 billion in it? The answer is that investors with long memories are still willing to pay professionals not only to screen stocks for quality but to gain further insight through access to management.

This may be especially important with systemic risks from the trade conflict with China and Brexit as the U.K. tries to leave the European Union, along with signs of a slowing U.S. economy.

The Franklin Rising Dividends Fund FRDPX, -1.02% seeks to achieve capital growth by investing at least 80% in companies that consistently raise their dividends. It makes no difference how high a stock’s current yield is.

The fund has blown away its benchmark — the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.86% —over a 20-year horizon, largely because of strong outperformance in the wake of the dot-com bubble and following the Great Recession. But it has struggled more recently, as a handful of technology stocks — which don’t meet its investing criteria — have led the market.

“Companies that have demonstrated sustained dividend growth tend to hold up well in challenging markets,” Nicholas Getaz, a manager of the fund said during an interview. He has co-managed the fund since 2014. Donald Taylor has been the lead manager since 1996. The other co-manager is Matt Quinlan.

‘Resilience’ and Microsoft

“We use very careful analysis of the resilience of any position,” Getaz said. He named Microsoft MSFT, +0.74%, the fund’s largest holding, as an example of a company with the advantages he and his colleagues are looking for, including “a leading market position, products that are industry norms and standards, innovative growth drivers and a business model that increases resilience.”

He was referring to the distribution model for Microsoft Office 365. Users pay annual subscriptions and get continual updates and cloud storage services. This brings in more revenue than the old model, when a user might wait many years before upgrading to a newer version and paying again.

Microsoft’s sales for its fiscal 2019 ended June 30 were up 12% from the previous year, while operating income was up 20%. The company’s earnings show very strong numbers for various office and cloud services segments.

Microsoft is paying a quarterly dividend of 46 cents on its common shares, which makes for a yield of only 1.33%, based on the closing price of $137.86 on Aug. 30. Then again, the company increased its dividend by four cents, or 9.5%, in September 2018. With such strong numbers, it is reasonable to expect the company to increase the dividend again by a significant amount later this month.

Looking back, Microsoft has increased its dividend by amounts ranging from 7.7% to 25% each year over the past nine years. During 2009, the company left the dividend unchanged, which wasn’t surprising considering how long the postcrisis recovery took and how many companies were forced to cut their payouts.

Microsoft provides an excellent example of improving yield-to-cost. If you purchased shares of Microsoft at the close on Aug. 29, 2014 and decided not to reinvest your dividends (to keep our math simple), you would have paid $45.43 a share. The quarterly dividend at that time was 28 cents a share, for a dividend yield of 2.47%. Fast-forward five years and the current dividend yield on the shares is only 1.33%. But based on your original price of $45.43 and the current quarterly payout of 46 cents, the yield-to-cost for your shares is 4.05%. That’s not bad, especially when you keep in mind that the share price has more than tripled.

‘Culture investors’

Of course not every company that steadily increases its dividend will triple its share price in five years, as Microsoft has.

Getaz said he, the other fund managers and their analysts follow “a debate-driven consensus-oriented process,” to narrow down investment candidates after an initial screen that includes:

• Dividend increases during at least eight of the past 10 years, with no cuts.

• A payout ratio below 65% of earnings.

If a company stops meeting that criteria, “we won’t add” to positions, Getaz said. But the fnd managers might not sell should they believe the condition is temporary or if it would otherwise be an inopportune moment to sell.

Following the screens, Getaz and his colleagues focus on analyzing business models to “be reasonably sure” that the next 10 years will be successful, after looking back 10 years during the initial screening process.

Getaz emphasized the access Franklin Templeton has to corporate management teams as a crucial component of the team’s management strategy. It’s obvious that corporate executives cannot tell Getaz anything that wouldn’t be disclosed publicly. However, the meetings can shed light on a company’ strengths and weaknesses, he said.

“One of the advantages with meeting with management is taking a sampling, over the long term, of how they answer the same question,” he said.

Franklin Templeton Investments
Nicholas Getaz, co-portfolio manager of the Franklin Rising Dividends Fund.

“I call us ‘culture investors’ to some extent,” Getaz said. After starting with senior executives, he tries to talk to divisional leaders as well, to “produce a mosaic.”

A company with a strong culture from the top down can “often find a way to prosper through difficult environments” because it can continue to innovate and make operational improvements, he added.

“That is a real benefit to sitting down with a CEO or CFO,” Getaz said. “Whenever I meet with leadership, I always ask them to in their own words characterize the company’s culture. Some are less passionate; some have been incredibly passionate.”

Two other companies Getaz discussed with cultures he admires are Linde PLC LIN, -0.06%  (a position reflecting the fund’s previous investment in Praxair, which Linde acquired in May) and Air Products and Chemicals APD, +0.53%.

When discussing Air Products and Chemicals, Getaz said, “boring is beautiful.” Discounting the “excitement premium” put on some stocks, he said there are advantages holding companies that focus on operational excellence rather than branding.

He said the industrial gasses provided by Linde and Air Products “play a pivotal role in production techniques,” as well as health care (the giant oxygen tanks you see outside hospitals, for example) and even energy production.

Fund holdings

Here are the 15 largest holdings (out of 64) of the Franklin Rising Dividends Fund as of July 31:

Company Ticker % of fund Dividend yield Total return – 2019 through Aug. 30
Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.74% 6.9% 1.33% 37%
Roper Technologies Inc. ROP, +1.50% 6.2% 0.50% 38%
Stryker Corp. SYK, -0.24% 4.4% 0.94% 42%
Accenture PLC Class A ACN, +1.02% 3.9% 1.47% 42%
Honeywell International Inc. HON, +2.46% 3.6% 1.99% 27%
Linde PLC LIN, -0.06% 3.5% 1.85% 23%
Air Products and Chemicals Inc. APD, +0.53% 3.5% 2.05% 43%
Becton, Dickinson and Co. BDX, +2.25% 3.5% 1.21% 13%
Texas Instruments Inc. TXN, +2.21% 3.5% 2.49% 34%
Medtronic PLC MDT, -0.19% 3.4% 2.00% 20%
Analog Devices Inc. ADI, +2.21% 3.2% 1.97% 30%
Albemarle Corp. ALB, +2.34% 2.7% 2.38% -19%
West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. WST, +1.78% 2.2% 0.44% 49%
Ross Stores, Inc. ROST, +0.51% 2.2% 0.96% 28%
General Dynamics Corp. GD, +0.54% 2.2% 2.13% 24%
McDonald’s Corp. MCD, +0.73% 2.1% 2.13% 25%
United Technologies Corp. UTX, +1.79% 2.0% 2.26% 24%
Source: FactSet
Performance

The Franklin Rising Dividends Fund has various share classes with different annual expense ratios, depending on how shares are distributed. So if you consider purchasing shares of this or any other fund, it’s very important to consider the entire expense picture, including the annual fee for your investment adviser (if you have one). The adviser’s portion of your total fee may vary depending on the share class.

The Class A shares FRDPX, -1.02%  have a 5.5% sales charge (or load); however, that is typically avoided as it is currently set up with distribution through advisers. The Class A shares have annual expenses of 0.88% of assets, a level considered “low” by Morningstar for actively managed funds in its Large Growth fund category.

We are using the Class A shares for the following total-return comparisons because that is the oldest share class.

Total returns (with dividends reinvested and excluding any sales charges) for the Franklin Rising Dividends Fund’s Class A shares have lagged those of the S&P 500 for various long periods, with Getaz pointing out that the outperformance during the financial crisis has “rolled off,” because more than 10 years have passed since the postcrisis low in March 2009. But the performance pattern is fascinating as you look further back.

First, here’s a comparison of average annual returns for various periods through Aug. 30:

Average return – 3 years Average return – 5 years Average return – 10 years Average return – 15 years Average return – 20 years
Franklin Rising Dividends Fund – Class A 11.7% 9.7% 12.5% 8.2% 8.4%
S&P 500 index 12.6% 10.1% 13.4% 9.0% 6.1%
Source: FactSet

The fund has underperformed for all periods on the table except 20 years, for which it has outperformed considerably. The 20-year outperformance (illustrated in the second chart below) is quite similar to the pattern of performance for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B, +0.57% BRK.A, +0.53%  .

Getaz said the fund’s underperformance against the index over the past five years reflects the very strong performance of Apple AAPL, +1.71%  and the rest of the FAANG group (Facebook FB, +2.54%, Amazon.com AMZN, +0.66%, Netflix NFLX, +0.36%  and Google holding company Alphabet GOOG, +0.78% GOOGL, +0.72%.

These companies haven’t meet the fund’s criteria for dividend growth, but they have been viewed by investors as “a collective high-growth theme,” Getaz said. He also said that over the past 12 to 18 months, “the market seems to have broadened its appetite for quality, which we believe has benefited the [fund’s] strategy.”

These two charts point to two remarkable aspects of the performance of the fund and the benchmark index.

First, 15-year total returns through Aug. 30:

FactSet

And now 20 years:

FactSet

The fund has greatly outperformed the S&P 500 for 20 years. It’s also worth pointing out that the S&P 500’s 20-year total return is significantly lower than its 15-year return, while the fund’s 20-year performance is much greater than its 15-year return.

“The 20 year look-back captures both the financial crisis, as well as the dot-com crash,” Getaz said, illustrating his point about higher-quality stocks providing stability as part of an investor’s portfolio.

Recent articles on dividend-stock investing in a world of very low interest rates:

25 dividend stocks selected for value by an outperforming money manager

This dividend-stock strategy is for investors who want an attractive monthly income stream

Seeking attractive dividend stocks? Here’s how to separate winners from losers

3 dividend stock picks with yields as high as 12% from a manager who doesn’t focus on dividends

Ethereum (ETH) Slumps 50% From Highs in 2019: What to Do Now?

This post was originally published on this site

Ethereum

Over the past few years, Ethereum (ETH) has firmly established itself as the second biggest cryptocurrency in the world, and although many have predicted that it might one day topple Bitcoin, it has never come close to doing so. 2019 has not been a particularly great time for the token, and despite the fact that the wider crypto space has managed to generate impressive gains, ETH has lagged behind somewhat.

Moreover, it has taken a bit of a pounding over the past two days, and its price has now gone below the psychologically important level of $200. It goes without saying that this piles on the pressure on ETH at a time when Bitcoin is on the verge of another rally.


Analyst Views

According to analysts who study the price action in Ethereum, there has been nothing positive about it at all for the past two months, and currently, no momentum is in sight. In addition to that, the 50-day moving average dropped below its 200-day average this week, certainly not a good sign with regards to the immediate future of the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin went on a remarkable rally yesterday as the bulls won out and returned the cryptocurrency to five figures once again. The rise in Bitcoin, naturally, put some wind in the sail of Ethereum and the token rose by 3%.

>> Ripple Escrow Wallet Transfers Another 500 Million XRP to Company

That being said, the rise did not even see it touch $180, and it should come as a cause for concern for many investors. Ethereum had reached a high of $360 in 2019, but since reaching those heights, it has had a miserable time of it and declined by as much as 87% in the meantime.

The complete absence of any kind of momentum or positivity has seen many in the crypto community criticizing Ethereum in hard terms. It remains to be seen whether the token can gain any momentum soon.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © sadsadang

Ethereum (ETH) Slumps 50% From Highs in 2019: What to Do Now?

This post was originally published on this site

Ethereum

Over the past few years, Ethereum (ETH) has firmly established itself as the second biggest cryptocurrency in the world, and although many have predicted that it might one day topple Bitcoin, it has never come close to doing so. 2019 has not been a particularly great time for the token, and despite the fact that the wider crypto space has managed to generate impressive gains, ETH has lagged behind somewhat.

Moreover, it has taken a bit of a pounding over the past two days, and its price has now gone below the psychologically important level of $200. It goes without saying that this piles on the pressure on ETH at a time when Bitcoin is on the verge of another rally.


Analyst Views

According to analysts who study the price action in Ethereum, there has been nothing positive about it at all for the past two months, and currently, no momentum is in sight. In addition to that, the 50-day moving average dropped below its 200-day average this week, certainly not a good sign with regards to the immediate future of the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin went on a remarkable rally yesterday as the bulls won out and returned the cryptocurrency to five figures once again. The rise in Bitcoin, naturally, put some wind in the sail of Ethereum and the token rose by 3%.

>> Ripple Escrow Wallet Transfers Another 500 Million XRP to Company

That being said, the rise did not even see it touch $180, and it should come as a cause for concern for many investors. Ethereum had reached a high of $360 in 2019, but since reaching those heights, it has had a miserable time of it and declined by as much as 87% in the meantime.

The complete absence of any kind of momentum or positivity has seen many in the crypto community criticizing Ethereum in hard terms. It remains to be seen whether the token can gain any momentum soon.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © sadsadang

The Future of Masternodes: Enabling Next-Generation Blockchain and Decentralized Services

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masternode

The crypto world went abuzz in February 2015 when Dash, the project formerly known as Darkcoin, introduced InstantSend and PrivateSend. The utility of masternodes had become apparent to end users by way of the fastest means of transaction at the time, with an added measure of optional anonymity.

Many other masternode projects have surfaced and sank on the coat-tails of Dash’s popularity since that time, mostly in the form of near-clones that largely failed to contribute useful innovations to the space, with few exceptions. This has resulted in many of today’s newer enthusiasts and developers overlooking the significant potential of the masternodes model as a foundation for tech advancement towards real-world viability for DLT and decentralized services.

Here I will highlight the great utility of the model by providing examples of new and useful innovations currently functioning, followed by my own predictions of the future for this technology, and offer rebuttal to a now-common presumption about masternodes.

Services Recently Decentralized via Masternodes

The masternodes model persists in disrupting the limited answers to “what can be decentralized,” continually facilitating new services and innovations in the face of other models that simply cannot sufficiently accommodate, or which face a cascade of challenges. The possibilities for decentralization via masternodes continue to expand due in large part to the lower solution barrier and flexibility afforded to projects with established masternode networks. Two recent examples of innovation most-readily spring to mind:

DEX: Today, Blocknet’s XRouter technology uses masternodes as “blockchain routing” nodes, enabling a functioning and truly decentralized exchange. Block DX offers a higher degree of decentralization than many other so-called DEX platforms we’ve come to know; it operates without the requirement of any centrally controlled servers, facilitated by a masternode network. Blocknet continues to innovate new ways of harnessing masternodes and its existing RouterX technology, including XCloud, a DLT interoperability platform.

DAG Relay: Patent-pending tech called ZDAG, utilized by Syscoin, makes a particularly compelling utility case with its use of masternodes as a source of bonded validators collectively serving as a high-throughput DAG relay network with nodes sharing fat interconnectivity, providing scalable throughput to the tokens generated on its platform, reportedly rivaling the performance of VISA Network. This new approach appears to have solved various challenges still faced by conventional DAG networks including eliminating the necessity of centrally controlled “watcher” servers, native retention of full transaction history, and decentralized global consensus. Furthermore, every ZDAG transaction can roll to a PoW layer post-transfer (SHA256 merge mined in the case of Syscoin), further compounding the degree of statistical finality and double-spend protection well above that of a typical DAG. All of this, while residing at a “sweet spot” on the decentralization spectrum. ZDAG was initially released in May 2018 and recently underwent significant enhancements. It currently presents 10-second global consensus and redeemability, and other characteristics where the majority of scaling layer solutions continue to fall short and/or lack objective proof of claims. According to Whiteblock, the group who performed third-party scientific tests of the platform, TPS of 15k-60k was observed within realistic network latency across 24 cloud nodes simulating a live network environment in the closest similitude feasibly possible at the time. The Syscoin developers claim its efficient topology relay algorithms ensure this comparatively high throughput is retained across a much more populated network, and further state they plan to subject the layer to scaled-up tests in the future, which will likely incorporate significantly higher node count. ZDAG uses roughly 1,600 masternodes on the present Syscoin mainnet.

>> Ripple Escrow Wallet Transfers Another 500 Million XRP to Company

How Will Masternodes Look in the Future, and What Roles Will They Fill? My Predictions:

  • Masternodes will become recognized as the means to facilitate proper networks for a growing range of decentralized services, and open new gateways towards scaling. The model continues to support a broadening range of services in capacities where other models fall short, and can potentially provide both horizontal (number of nodes) and vertical (resources per node) scaling. The scalability factor could be driven further through new approaches to incentivization, which brings me to my next prediction.
  • Operator rewards will extend to the basis of hardware resources contributed to the network, or on a service performance basis for true “Proof of Service”. The benefits of these angles of incentive will spur developers to add motivation for operators to aid scaling and network service levels by rewarding contribution of more resources and/or increase node performance and availability. This will follow further realization and focus on the scaling and decentralization benefits of the masternodes model.
  • The decentralized revolution will take new ground with “Web 3.0”, largely facilitated by incentive-driven masternode networks hosting IPFS (interplanetary file system), or similar means of secure sharded data hosted off-chain. Web 3.0 will solve numerous challenges posed by current internet services and Web 2.0, including censorship and trusted parties. This masternode-hosted internet might also facilitate decentralized identity services. Advancement of decentralized identity is recognized as necessary for extending potential dApp use cases and is being spearheaded by Decentralized Identity Foundation with members including Microsoft, Blockchain Foundry, IBM, and many others.

“But Masternodes Mean Centralized”

Assessment of a combination of factors is necessary to properly determine where a network resides on the decentralization spectrum. Factors include economic (e.g. token distribution, collateral cost), quantity of active nodes, distribution of hash power in the case of Proof of Work, and overall architecture of an individual protocol including the roles/functions of nodes and the means by which these roles are fulfilled. Only an insufficient and presumptuous conclusion can be drawn based solely on the presence (or lack) of masternodes.

Has this provided valuable perspective? Feel free to donate:

BTC: bc1qah44yduwr2cask69vzmzld2d23d6t3m3gx02su

ETH: 0x00DD67c0599003187745cbD7CD9952Ab4E6dde20

SYS: sys1q3qtjf4d7yr24zu3jjdhxeflxl2gaalcyagwpdl

LTC: MLVo8wkVRrTttsqhP9UHYkrRfu2TNiL6K4

*This post was originally published on Medium.

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Featured image: DepositPhotos © artjazz

Ripple Escrow Wallet Transfers Another 500 Million XRP to Company

This post was originally published on this site

Ripple Escrow Wallet

In recent times, Ripple has been at the center of whale moves and has managed to move a significant amount of XRP. In the latest development, Ripple Escrow wallet has completed the transfer of 500 million XRP token to Ripple.

Massive Movement of XRP to Ripple

In a recent tweet, the Whale alert indicated tokens worth around $130.1 million moved from the Ripple Escrow Wallet to Ripple. The Whale alert account usually provides information regarding cryptocurrency whale movements, and it is always informing the community about various crypto whale moves.

The gigantic transactions in the past few months have had a negative influence on the price of XRP. At the end of August, Whale indicated movement of the huge amount of XRP coins worth more than $132 million to an unknown wallet from Ripple. Equally, on September 1, there was a transfer of around 1 billion XRP coins from the Ripple Escrow Wallet to Ripple.

In 2017, Ripple Labs indicated that it will be realizing close to 1 billion XRP every month. The process would go on for the next 55 months and will most likely conclude in mid-2021, which implies that there are still a lot of XRP coins to be transferred.

Ripple Not Receiving Support from the Community

It seems like the community is not supporting the company on the issue, judging from various sentiments from members. The fintech company asserts that what it is doing is a routine process that occurs in each quarter. However, considering the massive Whale movements in the past few months, XRP investors are already turning against Ripple. Already, they have created a petition on change.org in protest against the company.

>> Liquid Reveals Blockchain Wallet Holding GRAM Tokens

This is a serious concern for the company, and it must move with speed to address XRP investors regarding the scenario. Ripple is likely to witness a mass exodus of investors opting out of XRP if it fails to do this.

The scenario presents a positive thing in that XRP’s volume has grown since the start of last month and currently stands at over 1 billion. XRP surged 1.54% in the last session and currently trades at $0.259.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © adriantoday

Upgrade: 10 of the cheapest places in America for retirees to live

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Stretch your Social Security check.

Personal finance site WalletHub released data on Wednesday showing the cities and towns in America that were the most — and least — expensive for retirees. Laredo, Texas, came in as the least expensive urban area for retirees, with an index of 76, compared with 100.

“Aside from having the lowest cost of living, Laredo is in Texas, which “doesn’t tax Social Security or pensions, and does not have an inheritance or estate tax,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez tells MarketWatch. “This lack of taxation is an advantage for those looking to retire anywhere in the state, as their fixed income can stretch that much further.” She adds that “Laredo also has the lowest annual cost of in-home services, and one of the lowest annual costs of adult day health care.”

Memphis and Knoxville, Tennessee, rounded out the top three least expensive places to retire. (MarketWatch recently named Memphis one of its four great American cities where you can retire on $40,000 or less.)

10 least expensive cities for retirees:
1. Laredo, Texas
2. Memphis, Tenn.
3. Knoxville, Tenn.
4. Huntington, W. Va.
5. Fort Smith, Ark.
6. San Antonio, Texas
7. Amarillo, Texas
8. Oklahoma City, Okla.
9. Toledo, Ohio
10. Jackson, Miss.

To measure this, they used cost of living index data from the Council for Community and Economic Research on 270 urban areas, which measures the costs of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services — and then adjusted that data to increase the weight of health care expenses, as these are increasingly important in retirement.

(One expense retirees tend to vastly underestimate in retirement is health care. Fidelity estimates that “an average retired couple age 65 in 2019 may need approximately $285,000 saved (after tax) to cover health care expenses in retirement.”)

Meanwhile, San Francisco and New York topped the list of the most expensive places for retirees, according to WalletHub’s analysis — largely driven by high housing costs.

10 most expensive cities for retirees:
1. San Francisco, Calif.
2. New York, N.Y.
3. Pearl City, Hawaii
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
5. San Jose, Calif.
6. Fremont, Calif.
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Oakland, Calif.
9. Seattle, Wash.
10. Boston, Mass.

Wherever you retire, one thing is clear: There is no “magic” number on how much you will need to live comfortably in retirement, as MarketWatch recently reported — and it may be more than you’d think.

“For many people, $1 million isn’t enough to live off in retirement,” Mitchell C. Hockenbury, a certified financial planner at 1440 Financial Partners, explained to MarketWatch in the story. “With people living longer with the advances of medical care and the higher costs of living, a million dollars just doesn’t go as far as it used to.”

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