Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

Crypto landmark: SEC poised to greenlight Bitcoin futures ETFs
Oct15

Crypto landmark: SEC poised to greenlight Bitcoin futures ETFs

The Securities and Exchange Commission is poised to allow the first U.S. Bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund to begin trading in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency industry, according to people familiar with the matter. The regulator isn’t likely to block the products from starting to trade next week, said the people, who asked not to be named while discussing the decision. Unlike Bitcoin ETF applications that the regulator has previously rejected, the proposals by ProShares and Invesco Ltd. are based on futures contracts and were filed under mutual fund rules that SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has said provide “significant investor protections.” A spokesperson for the SEC declined to comment, as did an official at ProShares. Bitcoin almost touched $60,000, the highest since April, while futures on crypto-linked stocks rallied in U.S. premarket trading. The largest cryptocurrency by market value has rallied almost 90% in three months and is closing in on the record high of $64,869 set earlier this year. Barring a last-minute reversal, the fund launch will be the culmination of a nearly decade-long campaign by the $6.7 trillion ETF industry. Advocates have sought approval as a confirmation of mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies since Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins best known for their part in the history of Facebook Inc., filed the first application for a Bitcoin ETF in 2013. Approval has for years been out of the grasp of issuers who, amid myriad false signs of progress and outright rejections, have tried to get a variety of different structures cleared for trading. Over […]

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US emerges as biggest Bitcoin miner after China crypto crackdown
Oct14

US emerges as biggest Bitcoin miner after China crypto crackdown

The U.S. has become the world’s epicenter for Bitcoin mining after a crackdown in China effectively eliminated the practice in the former cradle of the industry. At the end of August, America accounted for 35.4% of the global hash rate, a measure of computing power used to extract the digital currency, according to a Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance study published on Wednesday. That’s more than double the activity seen in April. The surge in the country’s relative share has been driven by China’s move to whittle down the industry to control financial risk. In the early days of Bitcoin’s 2009 inception, the Asian nation was the base for the biggest miners tapping into cheap electricity from coal and hydro plants. Now, Beijing’s intensifying efforts to curb the cryptocurrency market, announced in May, is paying off. China’s observed share of Bitcoin mining has effectively hit zero, the Cambridge researchers found. That’s down from as high as a 75% in September 2019 when Cambridge started collecting data. It’s also a marked decrease from the 46% level notched in April just this year. There’s a strong possibility that covert mining is still happening in China, but routed through virtual private networks that make it appear the computers are operating in another country. Recent increases in the hash rate in Ireland and Germany are likely the result of miners using VPNs or proxy servers, according to the Cambridge research. Miners are seeking cheap electricity and welcoming governments to fuel the boom in the virtual currency […]

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Roaring back: Bitcoin tops $50,000 for the first time in a month
Oct05

Roaring back: Bitcoin tops $50,000 for the first time in a month

Bitcoin rallied above $50,000 as Bank of America Corp. strategists threw their weight behind crypto as a new asset class. The rally brings prices to the highest since early September, when El Salvador rolled out the cryptocurrency as legal tender. Bitcoin was up 2.5% in early New York trading, and earlier touched $50,307. The universe of digital assets is “too large to ignore,” wrote strategists including Alkesh Shah and Jessica Reif Ehrlich. “Our view is that there could be more opportunity than skeptics expect.” The Bank of America report shows that enthusiasm for crypto is gaining traction on Wall Street despite its many controversies. Just last month, China issued a blanket ban on transactions and U.S. financial watchdogs are investigating some of the biggest crypto exchanges. In the eyes of Bank of America, more regulation could be a positive for crypto in the long run. Once rules are established, the uncertainty over how to invest in crypto will be lifted, the strategists wrote. Bitcoin has been slowly making its way back to its previous highs after a meltdown in May that was triggered by China’s clampdown on crypto mining. Prices are up more than 60% since a low in July.

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Is Zimbabwe softening its hard line on crypto?
Oct04

Is Zimbabwe softening its hard line on crypto?

Harare, Zimbabwe – When Mthuli Ncube was appointed Zimbabwe’s finance minister in September 2018, the country’s crypto enthusiasts hoped he would walk back some of the restrictions imposed on cryptocurrency trading. The truly optimistic hoped he would become a champion of digital currencies. “When he joined government, he was bullish about cryptocurrencies,” William Chui, one of the founders of Golix, a now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange in Harare, told Al Jazeera. A year before Ncube’s appointment, Zimbabwe’s central bank ordered all banks to stop processing transactions involving cryptocurrencies, calling the likes of Bitcoin and other altcoins “the currency of choice for money launders and other criminals”. The decree saw Chui’s firm close shop and crypto traders fall off the radar of government authorities. But on a trip to the United Arab Emirates last month, Ncube extolled at least some of crypto’s potential virtues. “I visited the DMCC Crypto Centre in Dubai, which is a fascinating incubation hub for crypto currency and payment solutions,” Ncube tweeted during his visit to the United Arab Emirates last week. “Came across solutions that could lower charges for diaspora remittances.” I visited the DMCC CRYPTO CENTRE in Dubai, which is a fascinating incubation hub for crypto currency and payment solutions. Came across solutions that could lower charges for diaspora remittances. pic.twitter.com/krhW8EJHLE — Prof. Mthuli Ncube (@MthuliNcube) September 9, 2021 But despite the official shoutout, few believe that Zimbabwe is on the brink of reversing its ban on crypto transactions. Many crypto supporters see Ncube’s tweet as a […]

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That time cryptocurrency proved people will buy anything
Oct04

That time cryptocurrency proved people will buy anything

Samuel Soren Adams reckoned it was time to stop hustling in a New Jersey pool hall. So he put down his billiard cue and in 1905 took a job selling coal-tar soap. “Dad noticed distilled coal tar possessed a tremendously high sneeze potential,” his son Bud recounted thirty years before the iPhone “Sneeze App” arrived on the scene. “So for fun, dad squirted the powder through hotel-room keyholes and inside cafes.” The elder Adams bottled and marketed his carcinogenic concoction under the name, Cachoo. Within three months of its introduction, a Philadelphia retailer had bought 70,000 bottles. That triumph was followed by the Snake Jam Jar, which, when opened, let loose a metre-long imitation serpent. Then came the Dribble Glass, and then, of course, the Whoopee Cushion. Exploding matches made another big boom. Bud Adams said his family’s leap from gags to riches proved the public will buy anything, regardless of how dodgy, ridiculous or hazardous the gimmick. And all these years later, it remains hard to dismiss the marketing wisdom of a practical joke mogul whose records indicated he annually sold 10,000 Super Joy Handshake Buzzers in Kuwait and kept the locals coming back for more. The Adams family’s gizmos spearheaded the way for all sorts of the silly stuff currently available through a smartphone, such as Ajit Khubani’s Massaging Slippers ($27.99); Witty Yetis’ Dehydrated Water ($13.30), and Arnie McPhee’s Yodeling Pickle ($12.99). A tin of “slightly radioactive” uranium ore on Amazon costs $39.95 and a fee of $5-a-month […]

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