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Can Cryptocurrency Help a Country During a Financial Crisis?

The use of Bitcoin and other digital currencies has played a big role in the economic recession caused by Coronavirus. A lot of people, businesses and companies have stored their wealth in cryptocurrency in fear of inflation caused by the financial crisis due to the pandemic.

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Sep 09, 2020 at 11:28 // News

People turn to cryptocurrency amidst economic recession

The use of Bitcoin and other digital currencies has played a big role in the economic recession caused by Coronavirus. A lot of people, businesses and companies have stored their wealth in cryptocurrency in fear of inflation caused by the financial crisis due to the pandemic.

Any kind of economic recession hits hard on a country’s citizens. The local currency usually drops sharply, and people often face difficulties in getting access to their funds due to failures of the internal banking systems. For this reason, they often turn to digital currencies, as they are beyond borders and internal banking. 

Easy to access

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard in many countries, causing their economies to practically collapse. On the other hand, some of the countries had economical difficulties even before the pandemic. Amidst such tough conditions, with local currencies collapsing along with banking systems, people are desperate for an alternative. For many, cryptocurrency could become such an alternative.

Despite it being used for storing value rather than for making payments, digital currencies can still offer numerous benefits to their users. As it is beyond traditional finance, the crypto savings can be withdrawn or used from any country of refuge, to purchase goods and services or participate in several online markets. During the times of economic tension, Bitcoin is more easily exchangeable, available and obtainable, traded, than traditional money. A user just needs the internet to access one’s cryptocurrency wallet and start conducting business as usual.

Back in 2008, when a strong recession hit Greece, the country had to take some radical measures including closing the banks for a week. The citizens were not able to access and withdraw their money and then started panicking looking for alternative means to survive. When Bitcoin was finally launched in 2009, the Greeks flooded the cryptocurrency markets. Despite cryptocurrency exchanges growing rapidly worldwide, the biggest share of users came from Greece.

Protection against inflation

Besides, in a situation when local currency price collapses, cryptocurrency can ensure storing the value of savings, even despite its volatility. For this reason, people see it as a good way to protect the buying ability of their funds. 

When the government of Argentina stopped its citizens from buying the US dollar after facing a heavy financial crisis, its banks stagnated (the Argentinian peso dropped about 90% of its values against the US dollar) and nationals had to flee to BTC. 

The similar situation was observed in Venezuela after its national currency Bolivar also lost most of its value. To handle the situation, the country’s President Nicolas Maduro even launched the national cryptocurrency Petro in a hope to create an alternative for fiat money. However, the coin failed to gain popularity among the citizens even despite Maduro’s attempts to thrust its adoption.

Nevertheless, the use of digital currencies in Venezuela has seen a significant spike, especially after the outbreak of coronavirus. As CoinIdol, a world blockchain news outlet reported, the spike was so high that it had even caused a threat of an Internet shutdown due to the network overload. 

While turning their back on Petro, Venezuelans prefer using Bitcoin as well as other Top cryptos. This is clear evidence that people look into cryptocurrency as a viable option to their local fiat currencies.

Cryptocurrency still volatile during crisis

However, there is clear evidence that Bitcoin is not always a safe-haven during challenging times. Despite now it is obvious that the industry grows owing to rapid digitization, the start of pandemic also negatively affected the market. 

The brightest example of the market vulnerability was the Black Thursday event in March 2020, when the price of BTC dropped about 50% (from $8k to $4.4k). The current doctrine about cryptocurrency as a store of value would have seen their value to soar amidst a deep stock market crash. 

This has proved that cryptocurrency can also be affected by economic recession. The only difference is that digital currency is beyond state borders, so it mostly depends on drastic global events. So when a separate country is in a crisis, it might take advantage of the benefits offered by cryptocurrency, provided that the global market is not affected by any disaster. Therefore, even though many people label BTC as a safe-haven, it may not provide protection in the period of global economic and financial turmoil. 

Source: https://coinidol.com/cryptocurrency-financial-crisis/

Blockchain

Goldman Sachs Plans to Relaunch Its Cryptocurrency Trading Desk

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Reports on Reuters today revealed that American multinational investment bank, Goldman Sachs, will offer bitcoin futures and non-deliverable forwards on behalf of its clients starting next week.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the move is part of the bank’s effort to take advantage of the fast-growing crypto space, which is gradually becoming an investment of choice for institutional players. 

Notably, the bank is also considering developing a Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) soon as part of its commitment to fully venture into the industry. 

Based on this regard, the unnamed source noted that Goldman Sachs had already “issued a request for information to explore digital asset custody.” 

Goldman’s First Shot At Crypto

In late 2017, Goldman Sachs became the first Wall Street biggest firm to ever consider offering crypto-related products, as the bank was planning to open a cryptocurrency desk.

At the time, the Wall Street financial institution was working on how to address security challenges associated with the business, as well as how it would custody the assets.

Plans were on the way for the launch slated for late 2018 when reports emerged in September that same year that the bank has chosen not to offer crypto-related investments. 

Sources said that the bank dropped its crypto plans due to the regulatory concerns associated with the industry, with regulators breathing down the neck of most projects. 

The issue of regulatory uncertainty has been the major stumbling block that hindered several institutional players from getting involved with cryptocurrencies. 

Interestingly, there have been clearer regulations in recent times luring institutional investors like Microstrategy and Tesla. 

The entrance of these large corporations has given other institutional investors the greenlight that crypto is safe compared to how it was viewed in 2018. 

Thus it could be the reason Goldman Sach is making plans to restart its cryptocurrency trading desk in earnest.

A Change Of Heart? 

However, Goldman Sachs’ second shot at launching a cryptocurrency trading desk comes less than a year after the bank told its clients during a conference call that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are not an asset class.

Reports at the time suggested that part of the reason for the call was to discourage its customers from including bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in their portfolio.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/goldman-sachs-plans-to-relaunch-its-cryptocurrency-trading-desk/

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Bitcoin Still Has an Uncertain Future: Citibank Analysts

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In a 100-page deep-dive report dubbed “Bitcoin, at the Tipping Point,” Citibank’s global perspectives and solutions team noted that the cryptocurrency could potentially “become the currency of choice for international trade.”

The analysts acknowledged that the massive interest shown by several large institutional investors like Tesla, Microstrategy, and PayPal is one of the major propellants for the digital asset gaining mainstream adoption.

The team further noted that several other factors, including a wide range of digital payment options like stablecoins and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), could also increase the chances of bitcoin adoption for cross-border settlements.

An Uncertain Future

The report also pointed out that a side-by-side comparison of the risks associated with bitcoin and the opportunities it presents makes it very easy to conclude that the digital asset is at a tipping point.

They wrote:

 “There are a host of risks and obstacles that stand in the way of Bitcoin progress… Weighing the potential hurdles against the opportunities leads to the conclusion that Bitcoin is at a tipping point… Bitcoin’s future is thus still uncertain, but developments in the near term are likely to prove decisive as the currency balances at the tipping point of mainstream acceptance or a speculative implosion.”

Bitcoin Going Mainstream Already 

The concluding part of the report quoted the famous philosopher, Schopenhauer, who said,

“All Truths pass through three stages, first it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

The team states that the positive change in stance on issues about bitcoin by several financial institutions very well prove these words of Schopenhauer, which he said more than 150 years before the bitcoin idea was born.

Several banks had actively shunned bitcoin in the past, arguing that it has no intrinsic value as it is allegedly backed by mere speculations from its proponents.

However, bitcoin’s immense growth has forced its former critics to re-evaluate their stance and join the bitcoin adoption trend. Some of the biggest banks in the world have started offering bitcoin services to their clients.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/bitcoin-still-has-an-uncertain-future-citibank-analysts/

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Matic, xDAI (STAKE) and Loopring (LRC) rally as Ethereum gas fees rise

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The start of a new month has brought renewed fervor from the cryptocurrency market as Bitcoin (BTC) price steadily climbed from a low of $43,537 on Feb. 28 to a high of $49,200 during today’s early trading hours. 

As traders get excited about positive moves in the market and look to re-enter positions, the increasing use of DeFi continues to drive fees on the Ethereum (ETH) network higher, shining the spotlight on the top layer-2 (L2) protocols that offer working solutions.

Three protocols that have emerged as top L2 contenders with working platforms are Polygon (MATIC), xDai (STAKE), and Loopring (LRC). Each offers its own unique layer-2 approaches to helping ease high traffic on the Ethereum network. 

MATIC/USDT

Polygon, previously known as Matic, officially launched as a layer-two aggregator for Ethereum on Feb. 9 as a way to offer an interoperability protocol for the network.

Since excitement for the rebrand began, MATIC price has increased by 400% from $0.05 to an all-time high of $0.245 on March 1. Growing excitement for the Aavegotchi (GHST) mainnet launch on March 2 has also brought a boost of attention and trading volume to MATIC.

MATIC/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Aavegotchi was one of the first projects to bridge over to the Polygon network and it will likely be joined by other projects if its mainnet launch on the network go smoothly.

MATIC also received a boost on Feb. 26 when it was announced that gaming giant Atari would be integrating Polygon in order to “bring their NFT & token products to Layer 2,” along with the launch of “the first EOS-Polygon cross-chain bridge,” that was done in partnership with pNetwork (PNT).

XDAI/USDT

 xDai is another layer-2 solution that has caught the attention of investors over the past few weeks. The xDai (STAKE) chain is a stable payment blockchain created by the POA Network, an Ethereum open-source public side-chain which offers a framework for smart contracts.

STAKE is designed to be a multi-chain staking token that validators and delegators offer as collateral in order to participate in the consensus mechanism and receive staking incentives for block production. The goal of the xDai platform is to offer fast and inexpensive transactions on the Ethereum network.

Since trading at a low of $7.50 on Jan. 2, STAKE price increased 500% to a new all-time high of $43 on Feb. 21 before falling under pressure alongside the wider cryptocurrency market.

XDAI/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

A scroll through the project’s Twitter feed shows multiple recent partnerships and integration announcements that have helped propel STAKE higher in recent weeks.

Notable mentions include an integration with the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) that allows users to move funds from Binance to xDAI using a BSC-to-xDai Bridge as well as the announced migration of the up-and-coming Bao Finance (BAO) to the xDai network.

LRC/USDT

Loopring is a layer-2 solution that specifically focuses on the creation of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges (DEX).

One of the major sources of congestion on the Ethereum network is the ever-growing activity of popular DEXs like Uniswap (UNI) and SushiSwap (SUSHI).  A separate side-chain made specifically for exchange trading could help alleviate congestion on the network and this is what Loopring aspires to provide.

The overall goal of the Loopring protocol is to combine the advantages of decentralized exchanges with the liquidity and order book management offered by centralized exchanges to help increase the efficiency of order execution and enhance the liquidity of the DEX ecosystem.

Since Jan. 2, LRC has increased by 430% from $0.165 to a high of $0.88 on Feb. 12 .

LRC/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

After falling to a low of $0.46 on Feb. 28, LRC price rallied 30% after it was announced that the Loopring exchange added multiple WBTC/Stablecoin pairs, offering “6 new ways to trade WBTC on Ehtereum L2.”

VORTECS™ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for LRC on Feb. 28, prior to the recent price rise.

The VORTECS™ score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historic and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.

VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. LRC price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

As seen on the chart above, the VORTECS™ score for LRC reached a high of 73 on Feb. 28, just as the price was beginning it’s 30% rally to $0.59.

Continued increases in the price of Ethereum, which rose back above $1,500 on March 1, will only exacerbate the pain felt by traders attempting to use popular DeFi protocols on the network.

The amount of gas needed to conduct basic transactions as well as the price of these fees will continue to drive users to trial the alternatives be offered by layer 2 solutions, and Polygon, xDai and Loopring are three protocols well-positioned to capitalize on this trend.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/matic-xdai-stake-and-loopring-lrc-rally-as-ethereum-gas-fees-rise

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