Whilst one of the most challenging years in history was drawing to a close, Finance Magnates was joined by Dáire Ferguson, CEO of online retail broker AvaTrade, to reflect on 2020 and what opportunities 2021 holds for the industry.
It’s been an interesting year for AvaTrade and for the markets in general. If I can start with what challenges and opportunities, from staff under lockdowns to negative oil, have both you and the industry faced because of COVID-19?
The pandemic has certainly been one of the most challenging events in recent history, and its impact will be felt across every industry for some time yet. The outbreak of COVID-19 and the ongoing repercussions has hugely affected the financial markets and damaged certain stocks.
While the swings in prices have been tricky for companies to manage, overall, for the online trading industry, the higher levels of volatility have been a great benefit. The potential for traders to take advantage and profit handsomely from the rises and falls of stock prices have been tremendous, and the lockdown period earlier this year meant that many people had more time on their hands to learn a new skill.
At AvaTrade, we had already anticipated seeing a significant increase in our userbase in 2020 given the new jurisdictions and product launches, but there was a substantial uptick in our user registrations when the bank reduced interest rates further and the lockdown hit. I know this experience echoes with many other retail brokers, so in general, I’d say our industry has done a great job of maintaining its resilience in what has been a very challenging year.
This year has also been a tremendous year of growth for AvaTrade. You already have multiple international offices and have now recently added a new Poland office and the Category 3A licence from Abu Dhabi. Can you expand further on AvaTrade’s regional growth plans and what regions excite you the most? Are other acquisitions part of the plans for 2021?
It is true that 2020 has been a great year for us, and we have been focusing a lot on our regional growth. We are now currently regulated in nine jurisdictions, and our expansion into Poland and the Middle East has been a major milestone for us after seeing these regions’ economies grow significantly over the last few years.
We are proud to say that AvaTrade is the first broker to have been issued with a full Category 3A licence from Abu Dhabi Global Market Authorities (ADGM). This means we can service both retail and professional clients, giving us an incredible opportunity to further strengthen the AvaTrade brand in the UAE and the Middle East as a whole.
AvaTrade prides itself on safety and regulation, so we’re always on the lookout for the next opportunities that we can capitalise on and ways in which we can expand. As for sharing our plans for 2021 and what acquisitions we’ll make, or where we’ll open a new office next, that’s not something I can disclose just yet! But we are definitely preparing to have an even bigger year and continue the strong momentum we have had in 2020.
It feels like barely a month goes by without Finance Magnates reporting the launch of a new AvaTrade product. You’ve recently introduced AvaSocial, AvaOptions and AvaProtect to name just a few. What has been the reaction to the new product launches and what can we expect in 2021?
Indeed, we have been busy this year rolling out new products to make the online trading environment more exciting, innovative, and crucially, accessible for our clients. For our more seasoned users, our vanilla options trading platform – AvaOptions – has been hugely popular as it enables traders to easily configure and execute a wide range of strategies. We are also seeing more of our customers – both new and experienced – equipping themselves with our new risk management tool, AvaProtect, to safeguard their positions in this climate of high risk, high reward. We have only recently launched our new social trading platform, AvaSocial, so it’s still early days on that one, but the response for that too has been extremely positive and encouraging.
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At AvaTrade, we like to see our clients succeed and offer as much support as possible across our platforms, as increasingly, we are seeing people seek openness, security, and convenience in all aspects of their lives. Moving forwards into 2021, our customers should expect to see a bigger focus on the technologies that allow for more flexibility and improves our platforms to ultimately enhance the user experience for retail traders and keep them with us.
This year, the FX industry has seen a whole new generation of traders onboarded. What can be done to keep these new traders, the ‘zero-free’ generation, within the ecosystem post-COVID-19?
Naturally, customer retention is one of our top priorities, and we want to keep as many of the new users we gained in 2020 as possible as we move into the new year and beyond. We would strongly recommend that anyone new to trading should be taking advantage of the various risk management tools and social trading platforms that are available to them – such as AvaProtect and AvaSocial.
Such tools and platforms can be a great jumping off point in helping those less experienced to “learn while they earn” and get to grips with the financial markets. They can also be great for boosting confidence as knowing you have a cushion to land on and a community to turn to should any positions not go to plan will certainly help traders feel more comfortable in executing their strategies.
Alongside AvaTrade’s risk management tools and social trading platform, we also provide our customers with up-to-date online education services which includes daily videos, informative articles, podcasts, webinars and much more. We really want to ensure our customers are making informed decisions and can hedge the risks they take, as we strongly believe the more successful our customers are, the more successful AvaTrade will be.
Finally, a timely opportunity to look back and look ahead. What have you learned from such a unique 2020 and, with Brexit and regulatory bodies globally tightening the rules, what trends are we going to see next year for the trading world?
We have already discussed how much the pandemic has impacted the markets this year, but we have also witnessed major political events that have led to high levels of volatility. The lead up to the US elections in November saw the global markets swing with almost every new headline it seemed, but since the result has been confirmed, we have started to see a notion of market stability return.
In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has also recently made the divisive decision to ban the sale of crypto derivatives to retail clients from January 2021. The announcement comes alongside what is already a turbulent economy for the UK owing to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, and, of course, Brexit, which endures being one of the biggest political challenges facing Europe.
High levels of volatility will clearly be the recurring theme for 2021 as well, and with that, we expect to see more regulation. By introducing safer regulation, users will ultimately be better protected which should lead to existing customers continuing to trade and new customers having the confidence to take the plunge into the online trading world.
Thanks to Dáire Ferguson, CEO of AvaTrade
Coin Metrics Report Details Surges in ETH, Doge Trading
Coin Metrics: Altcoins Are Taking Over
While bitcoin is still the world’s number one digital currency by market cap (it is currently trading for about $35,000 per unit), the asset has experienced some serious dips over the past month, while by contrast, Dogecoin and Ethereum have exhibited gains and are regularly moving up the digital ladder.
Coin Metrics garnered much of the information for its report by looking at data from Binance, arguably the largest and most popular crypto exchange on the planet in terms of daily trading volume. Additional statistics were gathered from exchanges such as Coinbase and FTX. Coin Metrics points out that thus far, 2021 has been the year for “smaller altcoins,” suggesting that a great many of them have surged heavily between the months of January and early May. From there, however, a serious crypto crash has taken precedence, with Coin Metrics unable to pinpoint what, exactly, might have been the cause.
For the most part, numerous altcoin pairs are offered on Binance, which explains why the company’s trading volume for many of the world’s smaller assets likely overtook that of bitcoin. The report says:
ETH volume surpassed BTC volume on Coinbase by a wider margin than on Binance. Coinbase did not offer Dogecoin trading in May (although they introduced it in early June), so it did not have a Doge rush similar with Binance, but it did have a relatively high amount of volume for some other altcoins, led by MATIC, ADA and Ethereum Classic (ETC)… Continuing the trend, ETH volume edged out BTC on FTX, although not by much, but comparatively, the top altcoins made up a lower percentage of total volume on FTX than on Binance and Coinbase.
Some of the world’s smaller exchanges – such as Huobi – also saw Ethereum and Dogecoin trading surge to levels beyond what people were doing with bitcoin. The report continues to say:
Similar with Binance, DOGE volume surged on Huobi, taking the spot as the third most traded currency by volume.
Bitcoin Hasn’t Been Fully Cut Out Yet
The only place – according to the document – where bitcoin trading appears to remain dominant at the time of writing is the CME in Chicago, Illinois. The company delves in bitcoin futures trading and has recently opened the door to ETH futures, though this is still in its early stages. Coin Metrics writes:
The markets continued to move mostly sideways over the last week. Bitcoin and Ethereum usage both stayed relatively flat, with daily active addresses dropping 2.5 percent and growing by 3.3 percent, respectively. Ethereum daily transaction fees dropped by over 35 percent week over week as gas prices continued to fall, and bitcoin transaction fees followed a similar pattern, dropping by 40.5 percent.
Bitcoin Taproot upgrade finally achieves activation lock-in!
The much-anticipated Bitcoin Taproot upgrade passed the Speedy Trial, which was a signaling period which gauged support for the upgrade from bitcoin’s mining sector. Since SegWit, Taproot has been touted as the next significant upgrade for Bitcoin.
Data from Taproot.watch, a webpage created by Bitcoin developer Hampus Sjöberg, released an interesting yet hilarious video to announce the completion of the lock-in stage.
— Hampus Sjöberg 🥕🟩 (@hampus_s) June 12, 2021
On the official page, it read:
“This period has reached 1815 Taproot signaling blocks, which are required for lock-in.”
Different mining pools tweeted their support for the upgrade on their respective platforms with Slush Pool being the first to do so.
TAPROOT LOCKED IN AT BLOCK 687285 BY SLUSHPOOL 🟩 pic.twitter.com/FFDdibtmGt
— pourteaux (@pourteaux) June 12, 2021
AntPool also supported the upgrade.
“As of block 687284, Taproot signalling has reached 1815 blocks this period, guaranteeing that absent very deep reorgs, it is guaranteed to lock in. Following that, it will activate at block 709632, probably around mid-November 2021.”
He also addressed that ‘there is a lot of work left of course’, which included:
a) PSBT extensions to communicate Taproot keys/scripts/signatures,
b) MuSig2 standardization so the software can cooperate in signing,
c) Output descriptors,
Why is it so important?
“With this upgrade, you’ll see Bitcoin to be the settlement network. Funds are transferred from one institution to another, say one bank to another.”
“The update would lower the data size of smart contracts, in turn lowering transaction costs. Taproot is also expected to enhance smart contract functionality and efficiency.”
Jeremy Rubin, a Bitcoin Core contributor and founder of Judica projected a similar optimistic narrative,
“With taproot, you get optimization of Bitcoin, much different from how people know Bitcoin today- little too inefficient or reveal too much information about what you’re trying to do. Taproot helps to be private and efficient.”
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Next-Gen Decentralized NFT Platform, NEFTiPEDIA Announces Launch of its ICO In 3 Days
NEFTiPEDIA, a next-generation decentralized NFT platform that operates in a way that contributes to the elevation of digital artists, creators, and investors has announced the launch of its ICO which is set to happen in 3 days.
NEFTiPEDIA has designed a commission-free platform to enable its artists to maximize income, following its aim to help them increase revenue via NFTs.
Following NEFTiPEDIA’s plans to storm the marketplace while launching its ICO, it aims to serve the marketplace with different categories of products including cosmetics, vehicles and property.
“….we believe NEFTiPEDiA will become a community-run marketplace and the industry will make our project as a kind and remarkable one in the world,” the announcement reads.
The development will see the platform provide a decentralized marketplace for Artists, where they can sell and validate their NFT links to fans and interested buyers.
NEFTiPEDIA Offers Exciting Prizes to Users
The team behind the project have allotted a total of 250,000,000 $NFT tokens for its users to enjoy in the upcoming ICO.
To further celebrate the intended development, the platform has proposed a referral scheme where winners can enjoy amazing and exciting prices.
Users who wish to participate in the program are required to sign up for the platform’s ICO panel and get a referral code.
The code can as well be shared with friends, giving users the opportunity to win exciting prizes.
A minimum of 5 referrals is required for participants to be considered for winning.
“Only those referrals ended in purchase will be added to the count. After the completion of ICO in 30 days, winners will be announced. Notably, winners will bear all the applicable tax.” The team further elaborated on the conditions for winning.
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