Petro Coin Is Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro’s Sanction Hot Cryptocurrency Backed by Gold, Oil and Diamonds

The Petro Coin is a very exciting project announced by Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro.  What makes this project interesting is a bunch of firsts, this coin would be the first staterun cryptocurrency and is also backed by physical assets, namely 5 Billion Barrels of Crude Oil, Gold and Diamonds.  This is a solid coin and currency in its own respect.

Back in the days when fiat currency was significant, valuable and important, there was the “gold standard” where essentially the amount of currency in circulation and value was a direct reflection of how much gold it was backed by.  If executed as promised, the Petro Coin would achieve exactly this as a first in the crypto world.

Why do I think this coin will succeed if executed and implemented as marketed and planned?

Russia, China and Iran.  2/3 (Russia and Iran) are currently sanctioned and China has been threatened with sanctions.  Since the Petro Coin was founded as a way to restore wealth, prosperity and escape the sanctions guess who, as an ally of Venezuela and also parties with a vested interest would both profit directly and indirectly from the Petro Coin’s success?  I anticipate massive amounts of money would pour in from Russia, China and Iran even if it is discreet and indirect.  If I am right I would expect that this coin could be hugely successful and a top coin.
On top of this President Maduro has recently asked allies in the region to get on board with the Petro project.

What are some downside risks?

Judging from social media some are very averse for various political reasons to this coin.  Another risk would be that this coin would almost certainly have trouble, be outright prevented, or removed from any Western based exchange.  Being listed on major exchanges is a key success because if no one can buy or trade your coin then it’s not going anywhere fast.  However, there are enough overseas exchanges to take care of this issue, and I suspect Venezuela would have enough resources to create their own exchanges to solve this issue.  However, the boycott and difficulty in trading this coin are potential risks, especially if as I anticipate, some governments would simply just make it a crime for their citizens to hold or trade in this coin.  It would be interesting to see where this all heads.

It’s also been reported that Venezuela’s Congress (the opposition) has declared this currency and coin completely illegal.  However, it also appears that this has no legal bearing and will not prevent the project from moving ahead.

Should I invest in this coin?

I can’t answer that because only hindsight can clearly show us.  I am planning to invest in it as long as the project is executed as marketed and planned.  Politics aside I think this could be a win-win for people inside and outside of Venezuela.  If this coin helps Venezuela escape sanctions this would almost certainly lead to an improvement for the people of Venezuela since sanctions mainly end up hurting the people (especially the poor).

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.

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.

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.

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.

2017 and Beyond The Future of Cryptocurrency and Government Financial Regulations

Governments, banks and other large entities have all been murmuring, talking and hinting what the future of cryptocurrency could be or specifically the block chain. They all agree “blockchain” is good, there is no one against it but there has been a lot of confusion about the internet thinking this is equates to government and corporate backing of decentralized cryptocurrencies. I believe this couldn’t be the truth, in fact there have been lots of issues for companies exchanging cyrptocurrency for cold hard cash being unable to wire etc.

The excuse you hear from the big players are concern over fraud, money laundering, etc.. all of which happens in the current fiat monetary system. The true issue behind all the fuss is simply that these decentralized cryptocurrencies allow unhindered free trade around the world regardless of which country you are citizen of and where you are, no one can sanction you or freeze your assets in cryptocurrency. Further, it is of course a huge threat to the current financial system and governments around the world who depend on third party “reserve” banks to print their money. It’s bad news for their monopoly on finance and business transactions worldwide.

Bitcoin Exchanges in China are being shutdown: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/14/china-orders-bitcoin-exchanges-shut-down-report-says/665209001/
Russia says Bitcoin is illegal: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-bitcoin/russian-authorities-say-bitcoin-illegal-idUSBREA1806620140209
Bitfinex sued Wells Fargo for blocking their wires: https://bravenewcoin.com/news/wells-fargo-sued-for-suspending-bitfinex-wire-transfers/
US SEC says they want to regulate coins: https://themerkle.com/sec-may-be-looking-for-ways-to-regulate-the-cryptocurrency-ico-market/
JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon calls Bitcoin a fraud: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-12/jpmorgan-s-ceo-says-he-d-fire-traders-who-bet-on-fraud-bitcoin

The part in China is most significant because the action in China has coincided with drops in value of the major currencies, as well as Chinese users doing a lot of mining and trading in crytocurrency.

When we take some examples above, this is the general consensus among bankers and government worldwide. They all like blockchain and want to make their own currencies that they control and centralize, but they are certainly against the decentralized ones and as new banking, taxation and other government intervention roles out surrounding cryptocurrency it will be very interesting to see where things head.

I personally think the decentralized currency will always exist and it can and will coincide with other mainstream offerings from banks and governments. There will be a place for both just as cash from other countries is traded for other items whether gold, silver or even electronics and oil. Trade will continue but through a different method of settlement and transfer.

One thing is for sure until we see how things break in terms of government regulations and how their own cryptocurrency’s play out, the value of the original decentralized currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherum et al will have wild fluctuations as people react to news that threatens these currencies the same way people would read the news about Greece’s debt and haircut on the bonds they sold. In fact many watch the crypto market including the ICO (Initial Coin Offerings) and note they do seem to function as any other traditional market would in terms of news and advancements.

I believe we are seeing a financial revolution, all currency will soon be crypto and physical cash before we know it may all be stop being used.
The only question is how fast does it all happen and how does the difference between centralized banks and decentralized crypto users play out?