BITCOIN’S VALUE WAS FRAUD?

 The Coordinated Manipulation
According to research done by Professor John Griffin of Texas Finance, last years epic rise for Bitcoin was actually done by coordinated market manipulation.

Professor Griffin goes on to explain that he examined millions of transactions on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, and says that “the US dollar pegged cryptocurrency Tether was used to buy Bitcoin at the times that the latter was falling- which helped ‘stabilize and manipulate’ the price”

First I’ll explain what Griffin’s said, and then I’ll explain why he’s wrong about Bitcoin but right about Tether. And it boils down to his understanding of how Exchanges work and how Bitcoin works.

Griffin said “Fraud and manipulation often leave footprints in the data and it’s nice to have the blockchain to track things,” Griffin told CNBC. Whenever bitcoin fell, Tether was used to buy it to prop up the price again.

“It was creating price support for bitcoin and, over the period that we examined, had huge price effects. Our research would indicate that there are sophisticated people harnessing investor interest for their benefit.”

Bitcoin started 2017 at below $1,000 and by Dec 2017 hit 20,000. But as if February to June 2018 it’s been jumping back and fourth from it’s lowest at $6k to the highest $10k (which didn’t even last)  Tether is the 11th largest cryptocurrency and is pegged to the US dollar. Some critics say Tether owners don’t have enough fiat currency to back its $2.5 billion market capitalization.

Bitfinex CEO J.L. van der Velde told CNBC that neither the exchange nor tether helped to boost bitcoin prices. “Bitfinex nor tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex,”

Now here’s what I think:

I’ve personally used Tether but I do worry about it. A lot of people have accused Tether of fraud, and Tether certainly hasn’t proven the naysayers.  Do they have the 2.5 billion USD and how are they raising funds?  Essentially as far as I can see, Tether is a non-backed, way of essentially printing virtual USD.  I think Griffin is way off on this one.  USDT (Tether) is a convenient trading pair that can be used with some of the top cryptocurrencies to trade and exchange directly for other coins.

The issue is that a lot of people don’t realize most tokens and currencies are not directly convertible or tradeable for others on exchanges.  Generally you’ll have to sell your ABC alt-coin or tokens for Bitcoin, or USDT and then use the major currency you sold or exchanged to buy say another coin such as Ripple, Litecoin, Lisk etc..  So this is where USDT comes in, if Griffin thinks it propped up Bitcoin I think he is misunderstanding how the exchanges work.  Yes a lot of people are using USDT to buy other currencies but is USDT a market factor?  No, I don’t think so, it’s just simply convenient and I agree with Bitfinex that it doesn’t appear they are using it to prop up Bitcoin.

However, USDT could not be used in such a way if it wasn’t given prominence and primary trading pairs like Bitfinex and other major exchanges have used.  Could some of the exchanges be in cahoots with currencies like USDT and others?  Absolutely, and this is the more likely scenario of market manipulation in the sense that they essentially largely control which currencies fail and flourish.

Any coin that is used as a primary trading pair or in other words directly convertible has more value and will intrinsically be used more as a vehicle to buy coins like Bitcoin.

I think Griffin just raises the simple question about USDT being a fraud and this is the biggest concern but I highly doubt USDT’s existence or trading patterns are responsible for Bitcoin fluctuations directly.  He may derive this from trading patterns but I really just think USDT is a convenient and easy to understand intermediary trading pair vs how you wrap your mind around how many BTC another coin like Ripple, Ethereum or Litcoin is worth etc…

What do you think?

Cheers!
-A. Yasir

Why Hardforks In Cryptocurrency Are Bad

I’ve always felt this but hardforks are simply bad, even if in the rare case they intend to fix a problem with the original currency.  Most currencies which have issues like Bitcoin are simply not just a “single problem” but a collective bunch of inherent problems.   But most often it is so clear like is the case with Bitcoin Gold that the team just copies and counterfeits a coin to unjustly enrich themselves.

Risks and Issues with Hardforks

  1. Loss of value, normally the original coin is at least temporarily devalued when a hardfork is done.  People wonder which coin will survive or be more popular?
  2. Confusion leading to scams and fraud.  Which is the real Bitcoin or real Bitcoin Gold?
  3. Many forks don’t make a wallet (more evidence of bad intention) and more likely that fraudsters will make a wallet that steals your coins (eg. John Dass and the Bitcoin Gold team).
  4. Community frustration and division.

Instead of hardforking it is much better to do what Cloakcoin or Litecoin did and the many others did by just copying it, making changes and starting their own blockchain.  This ensures the process won’t allow fraud, confusion or devaluation of the original coin and no harm comes to the community that way.

All these coins have stolen value from the main coins like Bitcoin and then people ask why the value went down?  If Bitcoin was not hardforkable I think it should be several times the value we see now, almost certainly 2/3s or more of the crypto market cap.

Trezor Hardware Wallet to Support Bitcoin Cash

A maker of hardware wallets for cryptocurrency has recently confirmed they will add support for Bitcoin Cash.  I’ve also been an advocate of not using these even before the Ledger Nano hack came out.

I suspect that some will lose their currency or at least have to try to recover it based on confusion over the two.  I really think it’s a bad idea since most currencies have no built-in protection to sending into the abyss to a non-existent address of another blockchain.

 

Hardforks Are Scams Says Charlie Lee LTC Creator

Charlie has been saying exactly what I’ve been.  Hardforks are essentially scams that devalue the original coin and cause confusion.  At the same time, I’m sure he meant well but it never helped that he announced he sold all of his LTC.  It’s akin to a CEO selling all of their stock and saying “I still believe in the company”.  Granted this happened well before this scam hardfork so the hardfork is surely what caused the latest drop.

CharlieLee-LTC-Litecoin-Founder-Says-Forks-Scam-Confusing

As we can see after Litecoin Cash, the real and original Litecoin went down in value.

Charlie also correctly warns not to give your private keys to these scammers.  Whether Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Litcoin Cash and the many scam coins they require you to give your private keys to their wallets (if they even create one).  The risk there is that the developers or wallet creator will steal your original coins and this has happened already with the Bitcoin Gold Scam.

LitecoinSlide

I think exchanges should outright refuse to deal with these scam coins.

The underlying issue is simply that why are hardforks possible at all?  Counterfeiting is so easy with these opensource, public and permssionless blockchains.  To me it is a complete security and privacy flaw that was well-intentioned but simply doesn’t work.

Going forward, community maintained coins that cannot be forked, that are secure, private and are real time will be the long-term ones to invest in and the long-term winners.

Coinbase To Support Ethereum ERC20 Tokens

Coinbase just announced it will be supporting the trade of ERC20 tokens.  A lot of times in the crypto world I look and shake my head and I just can’t stop with this one.  I could see if Coinbase wanted to support actual currencies like Ripple, Lumens, Monero etc… those are reasonably safe currencies to invest in.

ICOs which are essentially crowdfunding/pseudo-stocks (depending on who you ask) are extremely risk and I would say about 90% of those are fraudulent in that they collect your coins and never intended to deliver anything.  I think we can all agree at any rate that ICOs are extremely risky and HODLING may be as useful with those tokens as holding RIM stock.

Coinbase has a huge client base and is one of the easiest ways for people to get into cryptocurrency.  However, they risk bringing regulatory wrath and also dampening new investors from coming in when they get burnt on these ICO scams.

It’s recently come to my attention that some people weren’t aware that Ethereum Smart Contracts or ERC20 tokens are not vetted, supported or approved by the Ethereum team in any way.  This is  huge issue of course and why I am so against smart contracts at the moment.  Let’s get cryptocurrency as an infrastructure in terms of B2B,B2C,C2C etc… working fast, efficiently, securely and easily before biting off more than we can chew!

I am also at a loss as to how the Coinbase legal team approved this one?  Did they run it by any counsel at all?  I think if and when people lose massive amounts that Coinbase could be held liable regardless of waivers and disclaimers for losses in some of the huge ICO busts and scams to come.  Especially when there are so many other avenues and stable currencies they could have directed their customers to.

I am fearful for the investors, for Coinbase and the cryptocurrency market as a whole but should these warnings go unheeded and “things go terribly wrong” then it would be a good, fresh start for the industry.  Investors also need to do their diligence and exercise good understanding and judgement before making investment decisions.

It will be interesting to see where this leads but I would never recommend any friend or family member to invest in any Ethereum Based Token ICO and to stick with solid and real cryptocurrencies that solve the problems of today.

NEM Gives Up Chase for $500M USD in Stolen Coins

For no apparent reason NEM has given up the chase for these coins.  In all fairness I don’t think it was ever their issue, the stolen coins were the fault of the Coincheck Exchange’s security and not due to any flaw in the NEM client or network side.  Of course naturally they were interested but one bold prediction is that “hackers would not be able to launder the coins due to lack of liquidity”.  I am not sure if the NEM developers really believed that or if they thought heat on the exchanges would dissuade or slow the thieves down.  I suspect they exchanged the NEM for other coins and then sold them back again clean through multiple exchanges.

I would say this isn’t bad for cryptocurrency because bank heists occur each day and nothing stops one from spending or exchanging the money in real life.  It’s really no different than the initial fears of “e-commerce sites were hacked” just as real life stores have theft and holdups everyday.  It is just a matter of mitigation whether physical or virtual.

But with that aside NEM clearly said they were ending the chase and wouldn’t say much more due to the “sensitivity of the investigation”.  This is something I find a little strange, is it that they did find something but the authorities have forbidden them from disclosing it?

Was this an inside job on the part of Coincheck in Japan or was it something else explosive that they found?  Could it have been a rival currency, bankers or government behind the hack?  Anything is possible and speculation will rightfully run abound until more details emerge.

First Bitcoin Mining Arrest

In this case a Florida government employee was arrested for “mining Bitcoin”.  But there’s more to the story that is probably missing or inaccurate.

Many people use work resources to mine but this case is unique.  This IT manager apparently spent $22K using his workplace issued credit card on mining hardware including dozens of GPU cards.

Considering we are talking GPUs the IT manager was more probably mining Ethereum or another profitable coin.  It also could be he had some ASICs for Bitcoin running considering he racked up an extra $800/month in power consumption!

The moral of the story is that he wouldn’t have been arrested and charged with theft and fraud had he not used his work credit card.

I could see it being normal for an employee to be disciplined but its  a gray area especially for workplaces without applicable policies for mining.

As much I like mining here is one of the evils that it can impact anyone paying utilites.

Cryptocurrency vs the Current Financial System Which is more evil?

Hello internet friends!

So I’ve had a lot of questions and concerns from friends and family about cryptocurrency with so many scary and dire predictions and proclamations in the MSM.

If you’ve heard the news lately you may think it would be crazy to ever get into cryptcurrency because the news says it’s a dangerous bubble, pyramid scheme, illegal, used to finance criminal activity, used to finance terrorism, is completely anonymous and 200% evil.

While there are definitely some truths to the MSM articles like most issues in life I feel it is with an agenda and not an accurate reflection of the true picture, reality and future of cryptocurrency.

To give you an idea of my perspective to be honest when my wife first told me about Bitcoin I said “there is PayPal”, “it will never be anything”, and there will be “lots of fraud and scams”.  I was right about the third one at least (1/3) :)

The Main Points The Media Makes About Cryptocurrency and How They Fair Against Fiat Currency

  1. Cryptocurrency facilitates illegal transactions, terrorism, money laundering by being anonymous and without regulation.
  2. Cryptocurrency is a bubble and pyramid scheme that won’t last.
  3. Investing in it is too speculative and risky.
  4. There are lots of scams.
  5. Coins are worth nothing because they were created from nothing.
  6. Cryptocurrency can and will be banned.

The reality as I see it in comparison to fiat

  1. While I am sure it is true crypto has been used for illegal purposes the same can be said of fiat cash ever since the beginning of time.  Cash can be used anonymously and is used that way each day.  I think this is a moot point since almost anything in the world with legitimate and good purpose can and will be used for illegal activities.
  2. I do believe crypto will have a serious crash in line with the 1929 Wall Street stock crash or the 2008 financial crisis but that didn’t stop stocks and I believe the same of crypto.
  3. This is a broad term, there are literally thousands of coins which serve completely different purposes.  There is no doubt some have stronger fundamentals and will last while others are truly worthless for various reasons.  There is also massive speculation in our traditional financial system, whether the US housing crisis that put people under water, penny stocks and failed stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
  4. This is absolutely true, there have been a lot of scams in the crypto world, however there are scams with fiat such as fake money, debit/credit card skimming etc.
  5. This is true, just as it was of fiat money but this depends on the time period.  It’s arguable that back when the gold standard existed that fiat had a certain value and was backed by gold, but today the world is freely printing money out of thin air or “nothing”.
  6. I do believe it will be banned in some countries, primarily what we’ve seen is exchanges getting shut down in China and Korea but it hasn’t stopped cryptocurrency from sky rocketing.

The Universal Truth

While the media does make some valid points, they are really blown out of perspective.  Cryptocurrency does have issues, as does fiat but what I suspect this really is about is the fact that our modern banking and financial system is at risk.  Since most cryptocurrencies are decentralized, no one person, organization typically has any control over them.  You cannot freeze an individual, organization or country’s assets anymore.  In times of war, duress or even genocide such as Myanmar it would be possible for the underbanked to use a cryptocurrency such as XLM (Stellar Lumens from the creator of XRP/Ripple) to safe guard your money across borders and against unjust seizure.  With cash or wire there would likely be no time to do such a thing if your city is being razed by the Burmese army.

There is significant risk in the future for cryptocurrency’s which really haven’t seen a seriously long, sustained correction.   Yes there have been flash crashes and drops of 25% in a day but they usually all come back higher than ever.  This is a bull market without question.  On that note I’d like to point out that the financial side of the crypto world functions almost entirely like the current financial system.

Take for example the dominant US dollar, it is still one of the most commonly used settlement currencies in the world which is a way it has artificially held value regardless of how the US economy has performed.

In the crypto world I feel Bitcoin/BTC is on top because it is the main currency used on trading exchanges.  In fact on most exchanges you have to convert your other coins into BTC usually to buy into other coins.  You can place traditional Limit and Stop Market orders as well.  In this sense the crypto world has volatility because it’s a fast changing world with new coins, players and buyers/sellers are coming in and out of the market.  You can see people taking profits when some coins surge, just as you would with traditional stocks.  If the currency or project behind the currency hasn’t changed in a negative way there’s usually no reason to worry or panic.  Instead seasoned investors will wait for the pullback to buy more of their favorite coins.

The Final Word

I think the death of cryptocurrency is highly anticipated and overstated.  I do agree the weak coins and ICOs will die, but the coins with strong fundamentals will not be going away.  Cryptocurrency is here to stay and there’s no way it can be stopped, it can be regulated and this will somewhat shape the future but we’re now in a period where more regular people will not only invest and trade in cryptocurrency but it will be used as commonly as everyday debit and credit, something that obviously banks and government will take issue with.  The answer is truly that you can’t fight the market or will of the people, there are solutions and ways for there to be a win-win but the bankers won’t let their market without a fight.

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.