Asia Loves Crypto Again?
During much of 2018, one thing was very clear. Amidst all of the bearish price action regarding the cryptocurrency markets - it was obvious that Asia was not exactly in love with cryptocurrency. First and foremost, in China, the most populous country in the world, and a superpower of its own - cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings (ICOs) were completely outlawed. While this did not necessarily mean that there was a significant amount of cryptocurrency investors that were able to circumvent the ban - the ban itself was quite telling. India, which is the second-most populous country in the world and considered an emerging superpower, also caught heat from the international cryptocurrency community for arresting two cryptocurrency startup founders for operating a Bitcoin ATM that supposedly wasn’t even active.
In 2019 - the tides seem to be changing. While it is unclear what exactly has been the catalyst for the shift, or whether it’s all a coincidence, there has been a series of great stories coming out of Asia that is sure to satisfy those who are hoping for mass adoption and worldwide cryptocurrency investing/trading. First, four separate cryptocurrency exchanges were approved in Thailand, which many consider to be much more open to blockchain and cryptocurrency than some of its superpower neighbors. This is the country’s first licenses ever, which is obviously a bullish sign for cryptocurrency trading activity in the future. The founders of one of the cryptocurrency exchanges, Jirayut Srupsrisopa, the founder of Bitkub, praised the decision, stating: “We can partner with traditional financial institutions, brokers, e-wallets etc. to offer more financial products to customers. The bottleneck was the regulation.”
It was also a very tough last year for Coincheck, which is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan, one of the few Asian countries that actually accepts Bitcoin as legal tender. Specifically, early last year, the crypto exchange suffered what might be the largest cryptocurrency exchange hack in history - to the tune of a half-billion dollars. There were many dismayed at the event, which hurt the credibility of cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide, given the nature and extent of the attack. After the attack - which involved around 500 million NEM tokens - Japanese regulatory authorities began cracking down, and the exchange was actually sold to Japanese financial services group The Monex Group. However, the great news is that now, Coincheck is fully licensed by the Financial Services Agency (FSA)! Although the hack still lingers in the back of many investors’ mind - this does offer a new legitimacy and credibility to Coincheck, which hopefully will increase overall investor confidence.
As if this wasn’t all great enough news for the Asian cryptocurrency sector, Huobi, a well-known cryptocurrency exchange, is looking to expand in the United States. For those who are unaware, Huobi Global has been around before a lot of other exchanges, being founded in China in 2013. It has since operated from Singapore since China’s cryptocurrency crackdown, and was originally attempting to rebrand as “HBUS” to gain market share in America. However, it appears as though “HBUS” will revert back to its original name in its attempt to gain a foothold here in the United States.
Gold And Crypto
There have been more stories regarding mass adoption than ever, and apparently, a very well-known and well-respected Dallas-based bullion dealer J.M. Bullion has suddenly decided to accept Bitcoin. Although there is no clear reason why the dealer has chosen now to suddenly accept cryptocurrency - it is clear that the bullion dealer is “all in”, explaining that it is open to transactions as small as $100 and as large as $250,000 involving Bitcoin.
This certainly might be appealing to larger investors, considering that fees involved with large cryptocurrency transactions are much less than that of traditional financial institutions. For those who are unaware, a “bullion” is a bar of gold, silver, or another precious metal. Some of the typical materials that J.M. Bullion trades in involves gold, silver, platinum, copper, palladium, and much more. In order to accept the digital asset, J.M. Bullion teamed up with Bitpay. The company was clear that it viewed cryptocurrency as a more convenient way to invest, stating: “The primary advantage to using Bitcoin is the convenience it offers. Because all transactions occur online, customers are not confined to the hours and location of any particular establishment. They can make their purchases at any time from the comfort of their own home or office.”
One might think that this is the only recent time that gold would be mentioned with Bitcoin, but believe it or not - there is another interesting story, thanks to the Winklevoss Twins. While many associate the Winklevoss Twins with Facebook, as they accepted a substantial payout from CEO and founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg several years ago - some forget that the Winklevoss Twins are actually two of the most influential people in the cryptocurrency sector right now. While many used to think of the two as sore losers who couldn’t move on from the Facebook situation - the millions that they invested in Bitcoin afterwards have essentially allowed the two to rebrand as cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and advocates. Many cryptocurrency media outlets have since praised the foresight of the two, and believe that their net worth made them the first Bitcoin billionaires during the cryptocurrency bull run of late 2017, although that might not be the case any longer.
The two have founded the cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, and in a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), seemed more bullish than ever on the sector as a whole. They stated that they believe the market capitalization of Bitcoin would eventually surpass the global gold market capitalization, which currently stands at about $7 trillion dollars. Of course, the two did not give a solid timeline for this event, but simply pointed out that they believe the digital asset will work to replace gold eventually. Tyler Winklevoss stated simply: “We believe Bitcoin is better at being gold than gold.”
Crypto Meets Pablo
Of course, there is always a more strange and interesting story going on in the cryptocurrency world, and in that respect - this one is sure to not disappoint. The brother of arguably the most famous druglord to ever live, the late Pablo Escobar - Roberto Escobar - is apparently looking to get involved in the cryptocurrency world. However, unlike many other cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, who are looking to partner with large corporations, make a large amount of money, or disrupt a certain sector - Robert Escobar has one goal: impeach the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.
It is unclear why he specifically has targeted the U.S. President, although it might have something to do with the fact that the U.S. President has spoken out against illegal immigration. Regardless of the exact reason for the cause, he has taken to GoFundMe to raise money for his efforts. Mr. Escobar was actually hoping to raise $50 million to fund “intelligence research, lobby firms and lawyers” for the cause, but apparently crowdfunding website GoFundMe shut down the campaign, which infuriated Roberto Escobar. He claims that the campaign had already raised over $10 million before it was shut down. Olof Gustaffson, associated with the Escobar estate, said: “After raising $10 million in just 10 hours we were shut down by GoFundMe and within 24 hours launched the ESCOBAR stablecoin cryptocurrency to avoid anyone censoring us again. We believe the Trump Administration [sic] or President Trump shut us down.”
He is now apparently seeking to launch a stablecoin currency pegged to the U.S. dollar that will be based on Ethereum. The ERC-20 token will be called “ESCOBAR”, and the Escobar estate hopes to sell a staggering 1 billion tokens.
Strangely enough, Roberto Escobar also is apparently selling a book about launching the cryptocurrency, that is available for sale on Amazon. The description of the book is open about Roberto Escobar’s involvement in the cartel that made billions of dollars throughout the years, with many describing him as the “accountant” of the cartel. In the book, Escobar claims that the real inventor of Bitcoin isn’t an elusive man named Satoshi Nakomoto - but is none other than the American government. The book also seems to indicate that Bitcoin itself is a CIA conspiracy, stating: “The world is going to see that this was created by them,” the book reads. “And when they see it, it is too late, and when CIA founds out that the world knows about this, the CIA is going to sell all of their coins, and they will destroy the value of Bitcoin.”
It certainly has been an interesting week, and 2019 is just beginning. However, it would be hard to argue that it wasn’t a great week in cryptocurrency news, considering that it appears that two of Asia’s most well-known countries, Japan and Thailand, appear more open to cryptocurrency regulation than ever. Of course, the fact that a bullion dealer is accepting Bitcoin is also great news for mass adoption - and the Winklevoss twins, two people who bet on Bitcoin when many weren’t, still see a bright future. Lastly, Pablo Escobar’s brother sees value in cryptocurrency, but not in the way many other people do, as he seeks to unseat the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.