Donald Trump USA Bans Nicolas Maduro’s Petro Coin

The USA’s President Trump has officially banned the Petro Coin.  This is actually encouraging and not unexpected.  To me it speaks volumes that it can work but is working, otherwise there would be no point in banning it.  Apparently it will also be possible to exchange Petro for the Russian Ruble.  As I suspected I feel strongly that the initial funding largely consisted of China, Russia and Iran and that more support will be ongoing once the coin is launched.

As an investor I am a bit frustrated with this ICO (as I am with most these days) because it took way too long to find information about it and individual investors have been locked out.  They really do risk alienating the audience they were targeting as I am getting frustrated and losing interest fast.  However, the prospects for this first state backed coin remain high and will either boom or bust I predict.  And there will probably be a lot more booming considering what is at stake and the support that Venezuela has.

If the US thought the Petro Coin would be worthless and had no hope of succeeding it’s unlikely they would ban it.  Regardless of what we may personally feel, this is a strategic tactic by the US to stop the first country to try to evade sanctions placed on it.  It will be another precedent if Petro succeeds and other sanctioned countries can freely trade in this similar way or ecosystem created by Venezuela.

Ironically Venezuela is helping to keep the cryptocurrency dream alive which is becoming your own bank and that no one has the right to freeze, take or prevent the spending of your money.

Iran Enters The Cryptocurrency Race

This is huge news following the successful pre-sale of Petro Coin (Venezuela’s 733M USD private sale!).  I suspect a lot of those funds came from other states including Iran itself, China, Russia and other allies.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/22/iran-becomes-latest-rogue-state-to-develop-its-own-cryptocurrency.html

I believe it is no coincidence that it comes just on the heals of Petro Coin’s success.

I am very excited at these prospects even moreso than the Petro Coin.  Iran has huge oil reserves and in generally is quite wealthy despite sanctions that it has faced.

When countries move positively to adopt cryptocurrency they really open a floodgate of potential trade and commerce.  This could especially be the case with Iran who has a robust and developed country and economy.

With this announcement and the successful launch of Iran’s coin I believe it could be the next Singapore of the Middle East.

We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out but I wonder if there will be strong co-operation in this development with Venezuela?  Could it be that both countries are vying to be the crypto-kings of their region?  It very well could happen if supporting policies and development are put into place.

From an investment standpoint I believe most would agree this presents an amazing opportunity that we may never see again.

FINOM ICO Review and Regrets

This was a very expensive ICO at $2 per token.  It supposedly includes a NOM and FIN coin for each purchase.  So far there haven’t been many real updates about when we’ll receive these tokens.  All I do know at this point is that one of them will be locked for a year.  The cost was very high so I certainly hope this wasn’t a scam designed to collect a large amount of coins (as many ICOs are).  I hope they will go ahead with their projects and that this coin will return well.  Since the price was so high investors now have extremely high expectations over more reasonably priced ICOs.  Can the team deliver or do they even care to?  Time will tell but if my experience with an overpayment is an indication this team may not be honest or trustworthy as is the case with the majority out there unfortunately.

I’m a user of Nanopool and that’s how I found this ICO but I am already having regrets but let’s get into what FINOM claims to be.

They claim they merged the 3 projects into what is called FINOM with Mining (Nanopool), Cryptonit (their own cryptoexchange) and, Tabtrader (Banking).

I know nothing about the other projects but Nanopool works well.  What’s weird and good is that Nanopool seems to be Chinese based since it has an ICP license.

The troubling part is the question is who is really running these projects and company?  It’s not clear, they claim to be from Switzerland yet Nanopool is a Chinese website so there is Chinese ownership.  When looking at who is behind Finom most of them appear to be extremely young people.  The issue for me is why did they register in Switzerland when the entire team seems to have no connection there?  Was it to artificially build trust?  This is concerning because as far as I can tell they all really appear to be based in China and other parts of the world so why try to hide this?

Screenshot-Nanopool - Mozilla Firefox

Why am I upset?

Well first of all I feel silly but frustrated with Ethereum when I was trying to send to this ICO the Ethereum network was “congested” as it often is.  When I was trying to send I kept seeing in the console that the transaction was rejected so I kept trying.  However I didn’t realize the Ethereum wallet doesn’t show pending transactions and may attempt to send more ETH than your account has if you keep sending small amounts that are pending.

I ended up sending more ETH than I intended to them which are of course worth far more now.  I opened a support ticket explaining what had happened only to be ignored after several attempts:

 

FINOM-Scam

After a month of waiting for support I e-mailed the “hello@finom.io” that they encourage you to use on their website but that didn’t work.

Then I started getting SPAM from the owner who appears to be overseas and thought I’d reply directly to the owner.

Finom-KirillSuslov-Support-Scam-Ignoring-Investors

Unfortunately like most crypto projects and companies they are always content to collect your coins, they’ll SPAM you and create an impression that they an honest and community driven project but usually it couldn’t be driven further from the truth.

Experiences like these drive investors like me to not only become frustrated but we become less likely to invest in new projects going forward.

It’s hard to tell skeptics concerned about scams and fraud that it doesn’t happen or to justify that “most ICOs and most crypto players are honest” when in terms of IT, support and communication I haven’t seen anything more arrogant or dishonest than experiences like these.  It’s a world where our IT projects and clients would not tolerate this treatment and it’s only a matter of time before investors vote with their wallets out of both genuine fear and frustration.

 

Net Neutrality – USA’s Version of the GFW – Death of Freedom and Information

If you can understand the title you can probably guess where this article is going.  This is both my personal and professional opinion on a blindingly, obvious and simple issue that only benefits extremely large and powerful organizations and individuals.

What is really happening in a one-liner is the US is implementing it’s own Great Firewall Policy to rival and surpass China’s by far in terms of surveillance and censorship.

This is really a no-argument, argument the latest move in the US to get rid of Net Neutrality legally gives the ISPs the right to block, filter, throttle and censor content for any reason.  Obviously the primary and initial reasons will be for business and competitive reasons, this means if your ISP has an issue with Google you could have issues reaching Google services.  It could be if your healthcare provider is suing your ISP or vice versa that you’ll have trouble accessing their website.  It could be that your less than mainstream news sources are competing or disliked by management at your local ISP and you won’t be able to visit anymore.

Some of the first to be impacted may be services like Netflix, Hulu etc which most local cable or telco companies have lost a lot of revenue to.

But it can become so much more than this, access to certain banking portals, including cryptocurrency could be restricted.  In fact another huge implication is that if a US government agency orders an ISP to block access to content, both the government and ISP would be legally absolved.

Since the majority of internet traffic still transits the US and a huge number of services are hosted there, the impact is really the whole internet.

However, we can already see legal challenges on the way.  If they are successful then things will continue as normal but if they are not successful, the internet could enter a dark age.

In fact this should be interpreted more as the USA’s version of the Great Firewall masked as a good thing with ill-intentions that will harm virtually all people and businesses.

I don’t believe we will see massive changes overnight, the system will be implemented gradually to reduce the blowback.

With this insecurity there is also the chance that this could backfire and could create an alternative internet or secondary network that operates independently out of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.  There is simply too much at stake to risk the USA Great Firewall from impacting business and freedom of access and information.  There is also the unintended risk that the USA could be isolating itself if other countries develop countermeasures.

Can VPN’s help get around this throttling?  Yes, and no as now the ISPs could legally block or throttle access to VPN providers’ websites, service or even the protocols themselves.  There is very little that can be done against these measures, it depends how the USA’s firewall is implemented though.  It may be possible to use a variety of protocols and proxy your traffic through hundreds of thousands of IPs collectively to try to avoid blockages and throttling, but it all depends on how aggressive their policies are.  Only the stakeholders who have unleashed this policy know what they really intend to achieve but it certainly isn’t of any benefit to us.

From my standpoint there is no benefit from me as an internet user or business person in having a censored, throttled and firewalled internet.

All speculation aside, it would be wise for both users and businesses to hedge and place their business IT assets overseas at least in backup or secondary mode.  this is the best way to insure against the risk that your business could be severely impacted or inaccessible due to the USA GFW 5.0 as I dub it.  Certainly Asia and Europe are locations that look attractive.  One of the top destinations in Asia to me would be Hong Kong’s internet, in fact I predict Hong Kong and other areas will see a surge in demand as a result of the current firewall policy in the US.

How to disable Google Fonts on your website

The problem check the source code by viewing your website.
Click “View Source”

Then click the link on any “.css” at the top or search for “googlefontapis.com”

In the .css file you can see this:

#before doing any of this backup your original .css

@import url(“https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800”);

This is a problem and what stops your site from being viewed in China!  Since CSS files are usually called first before even displaying html this is why your users think the site is blocked or why you may falsely believe your site is blocked when it is simply the CSS font URL call that is causing it.

How to fix it:

For each Google Font Api download it as a file for example above manually entering this into your browser.
Or you can use this command in Linux:

wget https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800
Save the file as “compevo-google-css.css” or whatever you like:

Inside the file you will see the following:

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Italic’), local(‘OpenSans-Italic’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Regular’), local(‘OpenSans-Regular’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 700;
src: local(‘Open Sans Bold’), local(‘OpenSans-Bold’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 800;
src: local(‘Open Sans ExtraBold’), local(‘OpenSans-ExtraBold’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}

#########

for each url download the font manually:

Based on the above I made a quick script to help:

for font in `cat cssgoogle.css|grep “.ttf”|cut -d “,” -f 3|awk ‘{print $1}’|sed s#url\(##g|sed s#\)##g`; do
wget –no-check-certificate $font
done

#will download all the fonts like below

https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf

#comment out the original

@import url(“https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800”);

#add the following modified code to the top of the original css file:
Change the paths to suit where you downloaded these .ttf files:
#in general you are going to be searching and replacing “https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/” with “/some/to/your/ttffonts”

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Italic’), local(‘OpenSans-Italic’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Regular’), local(‘OpenSans-Regular’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 700;
src: local(‘Open Sans Bold’), local(‘OpenSans-Bold’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 800;
src: local(‘Open Sans ExtraBold’), local(‘OpenSans-ExtraBold’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}

Issues with Buying from China

I’ve been buying things from China for years both in person and online and can tell you there are both very honest people, companies and also just as many if not more who are not honest. Herein lays what I believe is one of China’s biggest issue to sustainable cross-border e-Commerce in my opinion and experience.

One of the biggest issues still exists today on say Aliexpress, you want to buy a pair of pants for your kids or wife, or a carpet. They show you fantastic looking pictures and my wife asks if I think it’s a good idea. My answer is always “If the picture they show is really what you get and the other specs and sizes are correct then yes”. I’ve gone for an advid consumer to a skeptical one who tends to buy more locally or from more trusted sources and known brands for certain items.

The first time I remember encountering this was buying a nice Hello Kitty for my daughter. What we received had a completely different design and outfit. The seller as per normal from China “apologized and promised a discount next time”. This is what scares me about their business model. I replied and said they have to give us a discount now or there won’t be a next time. They broke my trust by sending the wrong item and then expected future business without making this issue right. This has happened enough times from eBay and Aliexpress that I rarely buy anything because the hassle of disputing and trying to get your money back is just not worth it especially since so many items are not as pictured or even the correct size or of horrible quality. You end saying for the time and hassle there are no savings there’s no point in ordering anything.

For example if I’m looking for a certain make and model and electronic and the seller is known to sell authentic goods then I have no issue buying it because I know I’ll get exactly what I expect and paid for with no hassle (usually……… more on this later). So this is how I’ve proceeded, generally with good luck knowing that there are fakes of almost every electronic, obviously some things are more or less likely to be faked.

The impetus for this article started when I first embarked on a journey to buy a popular Chinese phone the One Plus 5 with 8GB/128GB in September. I tried to buy it from GeekBuying ( a highly recommended site on internet forums ) only to be told that they won’t honor the price and randomly want more money. The amount they asked for actually became more than purchasing from other sellers at the time.

Here is what happened at GeekBuying and they refused to honor the price and then proceeded to offer a discount code that actually made items cost more.

Thank you for shopping at Geekbuying.
We are so sorry that the Oneplus 5 A5000 cost has increased. Really apologize about this embarrassment situation and we hope that you agree to make up the difference $25 and we can continue the shipment as soon as possible.
Please note that the extra difference is already with 20% discount which Geekbuying takes the partial responsibility.
Would you like us to send you the email link to pay 25$?
Looking forward to your early reply.
Inconvenience regretted.

Cecilia
Customer Service Representative
Geekbuying
www.geekbuying.com

Asking around on Reddit and searching showed this is a common practice at least with phones with Geekbuying. I had to open a PayPal dispute because they would not provide a refund when I asked for it.

GeekBuying.com Price Increase Scam from chinaphones

 

So what next – I tried GearBest.com

GearBest is also a highly recommended place to buy mentioned all over the internet so I paid $539.99 from there.  It has now been 34 days and I haven’t received the phone.  Attempts at getting answers from them just refer me to “check the tracking and wait” essentially even though their 22-25 business days period has now expired.  Some have accused GearBest of giving out fake tracking numbers and hoping people don’t follow up on their orders.  I think this may be possible, I was given a tracking number from Singapore Post, it shows an item arrived in Canada about 3 weeks ago but Canada Post has no record of it at all.  It’s really not normal for Singapore Post to take this long.  As a final resort I’ve opened a dispute with Paypal to which there has been no response for.  Fearing this is truly a scam I’ve shown everything to PayPal and am awaiting their decision and I truly hope their buying protection works.

I never imagined this would happen to me or that I’d receive nothing at all with a potentially fake tracking number.

Customer service from most of the sellers of I’ve had issues with in China has been either unresponsive, unhelpful or even rude.

So what now?

This experience has kind of been the tipping point of my opinion of dealing in ecommerce with Chinese sellers.  The level of trust, honesty and service is woefully lacking and I believe is a huge threat to China’s business going forward.  If these sellers want a long-term sustainable business they simply have to change their ways as buyers like me are completely turned off and moved away from buying items from China for fear of being scammed and the hassle and frustration that goes along with it.

A lot of the manufacturers do not seem to be interested in knowing that their so-called resellers or distributors are not being honest or fair.  In fact when complaining about issues from both to OnePlus and Vorke, neither company replied or commented at all.

This kind of practice is simply unsustainable and if people like me will no longer buy from China others will follow.  It’s only a matter of time before fake reviews, blog posts and forums will catch up with unscrupulous companies and it unfortunately taints the entire industry and hurts everyone.

I’ve learned my lesson I will definitely not buy from other websites unless someone I personally know can assure me their experience has been good.  I will continue to stick to eBay and Aliexpress but will continue to be careful and try to buy as little as possible.  Whenever possible I now favor a more local seller who I trust over an overseas seller.

China’s eCommerce is still maturing and to put it in perspective there was a time when eBay was full of scams too.  It takes time to get it right but hopefully this happens sooner than later.  As always in general, buyer beware of internet reviews and recommendations and this will continue to change the online marketing landscape and trust factor.

Losing Chinese Business Because of 2 Simple Mistakes

This is not an article about the market condition in China but more of a practical reality that I think most people and businesses have not considered. If you read the news you’ll feel the first impediment to business in China is going to be regulations or that your website may be blocked by the GFW (Great Firewall of China). However in practical terms this is something you’ll almost never encounter. There are however 2 simple but huge, crucial and critical mistakes that most businesses make when trying to attract prospective Chinese customers for overseas or cross-border e-Commerce.

#1 Common Mistake That Guarantees No Customers From China Will Ever Reach Your Site
Everyone knows Google has extensive reach in various online services and platforms including search but their reach goes farther in a very harmful way for anyone trying to get Chinese visitors to their website. This issue applies to almost any user in China whether they are a local or foreigner and whether you are hosting in China, Hong Kong or anywhere outside. This problem can only be resolved by an experienced web developer or team and is a mistake MOST developers unknowingly make.

This little mistake comes from the fonts specified in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) that are used to style and/or layout all websites on the internet. CSS itself is not the problem, but what is the problem is that a lot of designers use “Google Font APIs” from googleapis.com. This is a bad idea in my opinion aside from the main reason which is that you rely on a third outside party to make sure your website loads. If the remotely hosted fonts cannot be loaded due to a change in location or the server goes down, your website will not load. In the case of China on virtually all consumer grade connections “googleapis.com” is blocked, this means the third party font server is as good as down and your website WILL not load in China because of it.

Essentially what this means is that any website using Google Font APIs will not work in China no matter where it is hosted. The solution is to edit your CSS code and use alternative fonts, or to manually download the .ttf and edit your .css files.

#2 Hosting your site outside of Mainland China or Hong Kong is too slow
For those who have ever visited China, loading sites abroad such as in the US or even worse in Europe is a very difficult hit and miss experience. While most sites are actually not blocked by the GFW, a good portion of sites and services are unusable due to poor connectivity between China and a lot of ISPs. This can be solved somewhat with premium bandwidth that we use in China but really the best solution is to host your site in Mainland China or Hong Kong.

For those familiar with China, you will know that you need an ICP license from the Ministry of IT. This is not a problem if you have a presence in China or a friend who can help. But really the only legal way is to get a proper ICP license which means based on your business and not a personal ICP (we have seen these revoked for misuse). To make it short, if you don’t have an ICP in China your site will not work and will be blocked. So hosting your website in China is only an option if you have an ICP license.

The next best thing is Premium bandwidth from Hong Kong with direct China connectivity which is almost as good as being in Mainland China. But note the “Premium Bandwidth” and “Direct China Connectivity” because only some providers have this. Bandwidth is very expensive in Hong Kong and the only way providers can save money is by buying non-premium bandwidth that routes all China traffic through the USA. For cost it makes sense for those providers, but for you the end user and business who wants to have Chinese customers it doesn’t make sense unless you have direct China peering/connectivity. If you have a good connection to China from Hong Kong then users can essentially expect your site to perform as if it’s in Mainland China, in fact most users will probably feel it is located in China because of the low latency and fast response. In Hong Kong there is no requirement for an ICP license so this is really the best method for those who can’t the ICP license in China.

Don’t Lose Out
For companies who have targeted the Chinese market and have attempted to drive traffic to their own website or third party portal if you haven’t received the response you’ve expected the above could very well be why you have no Chinese customers. In another blog post I will show a few technical examples of how to fix it and still use Google Font APIs although the easiest, quickest fix is to stop using them.

Is China Still A Hot Economy?

In the past 10 years I’ve spent a lot of time in China doing business. It depends how you quantify things but I can speak anecdotally and from experience.

China’s GDP growth is no longer double digit

China’s GDP has dropped from the double digit miracle of 10.1% in 2010 to 6.1% in 2016. In terms of numbers there is no doubt China is slowing down but still 6% growth is nothing to complain about. Why so? Because the miracle that is between 10-15 years behind China in Southeast Asia for example is showing similar growth.
Malaysia in 2016 was 4.2% which is a fair drop compared to 2010’s 7.5%. Indonesia follows a similar trend with 2016 being 5.0% and 2010 being 6.4%. We can see a general trend in Asia especially that China is following with moderating GDP but the hype would have you believe otherwise. Don’t get me wrong Southeast is undoubtedly poised for huge growth, it’s just that the hype would have you believe there is double digit growth that hasn’t arrived just yet.

Changes Have Happened
Of course this is no surprise, the Chinese government itself planned for this and stated that double digit GDP is not sustainable into the future. China’s stated goal has essentially been to transform themselves from a labor based economy to a knowledge based economy with internal consumption largely sustaining this. To the credit of China I think they’ve largely achieved this. The evidence is everywhere with constantly rising wages, Chinese citizens are becoming more affluent, buying more expensive items and high end goods have flooded the Mainland and they are intended for the locals. This presents a huge opportunity for companies who have such items on offer.

Missing from the above picture are things I’ve heard from friends and colleagues. A lot of manufacturing companies have packed up shop due to rising costs including labor and moved to Southeast Asian locations. In turn there are less jobs for expatriates than in previous times and with rising living costs in China it has been less attractive to some business sectors and expatriates alike. With less production from the labor force in China, it’s only inevitable that the GDP has moderated.

It’s not all bad
A lot of people have said that some companies entered the Chinese market because it was so lucrative and with less competition. Today that’s no longer true as China’s economy has matured and the country itself has been modernizing and changing at break-neck pace. The one unintended impact is that this also created an environment of uncertainty for some businesses and sectors.

However, it’s not all bad depending on who you ask. China’s ecommerce market is thriving, in fact part of the reason why some companies are no longer there is because just like the West (but even moreso in China) the digital economy and internet have literally transformed and revolutionized the country. What worked yesterday is no longer valid or effective today and this is a general statement for how things are done in China (things move fast!).

Stats in China showed the ecommerce grew by 26.2% in 2016 for a whopping 5.16Trillion RMB/CNY! In fact ecommerce in China is said to represent 15% of ALL retail sales in China and of course these numbers are only expected to increase.

So is China still hot?
It depends from who’s perspective, internal consumption is rising, so are wages, GDP is still fairly high and eCommerce continues to be a huge factor in China. If someone wanted to get into eCommerce in China or offer goods to the growing middle and affluent class in China I would say it’s still hot. As always it is best to diversify and not rely on a single economy.

Countries where cryptocurrency, coins, tokens and ICOs are banned

There has been a lot of activity lately in the world with governments banning cryptocurrency and ICOs but this should come as no surprise as there has been strongly worded messaging about this for some time.

China bans ICOs and shuts down Exchanges
This had a massive impact on the valuations of coins such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherum, Dash etc.. but things have since recovered since the 2017/09/04 law passed in China but serves as a warning and example of what government intervention can and cannot do.

http://en.people.cn/n3/2017/0904/c90000-9264331.html

Chinese authorities on Monday ordered a ban on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a nascent form of fundraising in which technology start-ups issue their own digital coins, or “tokens”, to investors to access funds as the rapidly expanding market spawned concerns over financial risks.

Starting Monday, ICO activities should be halted, and ICO platforms should not engage in exchange services between fiat currencies, virtual coins and tokens, said a statement from the People’s Bank of China.

South Korea Bans ICOs

The good news is that while ICOs are banned it does not appear that trading in the currencies themselves is banned.
http://www.nasdaq.com/article/south-koreas-ico-ban-a-reaction-to-serious-concerns-over-cryptocurrency-investment-practices-cm854236

In fact it appears South Korea plans to allow trading but wants more regulation and safeguards:

South Korea Makes it Legal to Transfer Cryptocurrencies Internationally

Singapore

Although not by law, many companies in Singapore dealing in cryptocurrency have had their accounts closed:

https://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2017/september/singapore-banks-closing-accounts-of-cryptocurrency-firms/

Countries subject to strict or promising strict regulations

Nearly every country has taken a similar line where they are making a legal framework and claiming that ICOs are subject to the same laws and rules as IPOs. However this doesn’t appear to have been translated into law. It also doesn’t address the question of how holders on the coins will be impacted but one would guess that in the future they may be subject to capital gains tax and treated like traditional stock investments.

This list of countries includes:
EU, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore and many other countries around the world.

Hong Kong Regulators Warn ICO Tokens May be Securities Under the Law

SEC: ICO Tokens Like Those of The DAO are Securities Subject to Regulations

Canadian Regulators Say Cryptocurrency ICO/ITO May be Subject to Securities Law

Is the regulation valid, practical and legal?

This is a hard call for me to understand in the sense that these cryptocurrencies are just that, digital currency and currently people are not taxed or penalized for simply exchanging, buying and/or holding different currencies.

It may also be interesting to see what the large exchanges, businesses and users do in response such as unprecedented regulation and laws. It may be that some of the regulations and laws imposed around the world may be found invalid or unenforceable in the end.

What are your thoughts and as always please let me know if I’ve missed any new developments around the laws of cryptocurrency.

My New Phone – OnePlus 5 8GB RAM/128GB Storage

Around the time I posted my thoughts on the iPhone-X I finally decided on a Chinese phone like the post hinted after a few hiccups with sellers in China. I’ve searched for several weeks and almost bought a Xiaomi (there are so many to choose from) but I felt the OnePlus 5 even though it has increased in cost was the best value. One big issue with a lot of other Chinese phones is if you look at the bands or frequency of LTE, they often only support only 1 or 2 common bands in North America. This is a big problem of course and phones like the OnePlus tend to support the same or more bands than phones from our local market. However Xiaomi is making phones like the M1 which are not as high spec’d but with most of the same bands so things are changing, but still many other Chinese phones are lagging in terms of LTE bands and this should be a big factor if you check the bands supported do not match with your local carrier.

Why did I choose the OnePlus 5?
The specs are high and so is the value with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space even though some have complained that the value is not as great as previous models I still consider it a smart buy at $540 USD (I originally purchased it for $519.99 but it turned out to be a bait and switch scam-more on that later). The camera is also great on this phone and it is another alternative for capturing business and family moments on the go when I don’t have a dedicated camera with me.

In short it’s basically a quality, flagship, superphone at a reasonable price. There’s no need to pay more for less such as Google’s Pixel2 with only 4GB of RAM for $899 USD. Samsung S8 was on my list but not so much after a string of quality issues and my previous Note not working as well as I expected (I will say for its time the camera was fantastic though).

I think this is a fantastic business phone and nothing out there really beats it. I could spend more but why bother when the OnePlus offers top end specs and reliability?

What factors made me almost not-choose it?
Not having a SD card slot and removable battery are some things I really tend to stay away from. Either of those issues made it hard for me to Choose the OnePlus5 I do hope they will change this in future models.

Why haven’t I reviewed the phone more?
I’m still waiting for it, I wasted several days after buying it on sale at GeekBuying.com only to be told I had to pay $25 more (essentially they didn’t honor their own sale price) and it took time to get a refund from them. Apparently they do this a lot after searching about the same issue. I then purchased from another place called GearBest at a higher price $539.99.

The most difficult thing about this phone has been dealing with the companies in China. Some of the most recommended sellers based on internet forums/blogs which I suspect some of the praise is not authentic suggest “GeekBuying” and “GearBest”. Part of this motivation is of course because they have affiliate programs but there are slew of complaints similar or worse than mine. Customer service at these sorts of companies is usually not helpful when they’ve made a mistake or they’re asking you for more money.

I wanted to buy from OnePlus.net directly but they won’t allow Canadians to pay in USD (because this works out to be cheaper at the moment) and they didn’t seem to understand why someone would want to pay in a different currency. Their system forces you to pay by only the currency of the shipping destination.

Has anyone else bought a OnePlus or other Chinese phone and can you recommend more trustworthy, honest and reliable sellers in China? Please let me know in the comments section.

I’ll have the full review once I have the phone but shipping has been a bit slower than I expected from Singapore Post (normally it is much quicker).