Craig Wright’s Satoshi Claim At Risk After Whitepaper Edits

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/25/craig-wrights-satoshi-claim-at-risk-after-whitepaper-edits/

Dr Craig Wright arrives at the Rolls Building in London for a hearing over the identity of the … [+] creator of Bitcoin. The hearing is being held to determine whether or not computer scientist Dr Wright is the pseudonymous “Satoshi Nakamoto” – the person who created the digital currency in 2008. Wright, an Australian inventor and academic, said he was Bitcoin’s creator in 2016 but the claim has drawn scepticism. Picture date: Friday February 23, 2024. (Photo by Lucy North/PA Images via Getty Images)

PA Images via Getty Images

In London’s Rolls Building, within the Royal Courts of Justice, the trial of COPA vs Craig Wright continues, aiming to establish whether or not Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto. Further developments and testimonies have emerged throughout the trial’s third week, challenging Wright’s claims.

One of the key aspects of the trial this week was the presentation of animations based on edit logs that Wright had included in his disclosures. The animations were created by developers using the logs.

The footage shows modifications to the bitcoin whitepaper being made, suggesting that such alterations could be interpreted as consistent with backdating or fabricating the document. This visual representation demonstrated the full extent of the edits. Gunning asked Wright, “If you were forging the whitepaper, that is how you would do it, isn’t it?” Wright replied, “Yes,”.

Wright stated that the edits were a demonstration for his representatives at Shoosmiths, his law firm. The animation showed a red flash when Wright was on a call with his lawyers at Shoosmiths while making the edits.

Scrutiny was placed on the accuracy and integrity of financial records from the Mind Your Own Business accounting software used by Wright, particularly regarding allegations of backdated documents. Hough contested Wright’s claim that an update to MYOB could lead to the inaccuracies alleged in the reports. He then accused Wright of presenting a “pack of lies.”

Wright attempted to counter these accusations by referencing evidence previously deemed inadmissible by experts, experts whom Wright himself had dismissed.

Gunning interrogated Wright in the afternoon session over the authenticity of Abacus emails and Tulip Trading evidence. Wright insisted on the legitimacy of these materials. Revelations emerged regarding Wright’s manipulation of LaTex files, with detailed demonstrations illustrating alterations to line breaks and spacing, raising further questions.

Wright’s testimony concluded the week, accompanied by expert witnesses who testified throughout the week. Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn, the founder of Zcash
ZEC
, testified, describing his connection with Satoshi as rooted in mutual cryptographic interests. He spoke of their shared focus on privacy and decentralization. When asked about his limited involvement in the early stages of the bitcoin project, he said with a smile, “You underestimate my laziness.”

Further testimonies came from Marti Malmi, a computer scientist, who disputed Wright’s claims regarding the timeline of his interactions with Satoshi. Malmi stated that his contact with Satoshi occurred in May 2009 rather than February, as Wright had claimed, and he decided to release emails on social media.

Adam Back, CEO of Blockstream, provided insights into his communications with Satoshi. Back’s testimony contradicted Wright’s claim of their interactions being ‘dismissive.’ Back’s HashCash system laid the groundwork for bitcoin’s proof-of-work, making a vital contribution to the development of bitcoin.

The trial took an unexpected turn when Wright accused Christen Ager-Hanssen of collusion with COPA. Wright’s said while in the dock, “I actually believe Ager-Hanssen is working with you guys,”. This statement was made at the close of Friday’s hearing.

The trial continues…..

Snowden And Assange: Freedom And Financial Autonomy

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/20/snowden-and-assange-freedom-and-financial-autonomy/

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 15: Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Internet Party leader Laila … [+] Harre, Robert Amsterdam, Glenn Greenwald and Kim Dotcom discuss the revelations about New Zealand’s mass surveillance at Auckland Town Hall on September 15, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. The general election in New Zealand will be held this weekend, on 20 September 2014. Photo by Hannah Peters

Getty Images

Edward Snowden, renowned for his advocacy of privacy and decentralization, has reiterated his support for bitcoin, hailing it as the “most significant monetary advance since the creation of coinage” in a tweet inspired by the original vision of bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.

The personal accounts of Snowden and Julian Assange further enrich this discussion about the potential of bitcoin. Snowden’s asylum in Russia, following his revelations about NSA surveillance practices, illustrates the contentious nature of whistleblowing and the intricate balance between individual freedoms and national security concerns.

Similarly, the ongoing “Free Assange” movement in London, which seeks the release of the WikiLeaks founder from Belmarsh Prison, underscores the global discourse on the right to information, transparency, and the legal complexities of exposing secret data. In the backdrop of Julian Assange’s legal battle, Stella Assange, his wife, has become a vocal advocate for his release. Her efforts highlight the personal struggle behind Assange’s public ordeal and the broader implications for freedom of information and justice.

This data, although controversial, is often argued to be in the public interest, reflecting a delicate balance between government secrecy and the public’s right to know. This movement and Snowden’s asylum also highlight the implications of the Espionage Act in the United States, under which they both face charges.

Critics argue that the Act, by its nature, precludes a fair trial for those accused of espionage by limiting the defense’s ability to argue the public interest of their disclosures. This effectively means that individuals charged under the Espionage Act, like Assange, are constrained in their defense options, challenging the fundamental principles of justice and fairness in the legal process.

Snowden’s evolution from a whistleblower to an advocate for bitcoin intersects with Assange’s legal challenges, shedding light on broader issues such as digital privacy, government surveillance, and the quest for a decentralized financial system without government interference. This movement towards embracing bitcoin’s decentralized principles reflects a growing demand for economic empowerment, autonomy, and a critical reevaluation of conventional financial systems.

Assange stands at a critical juncture in his fight against extradition to the United States. A public hearing set for February 20-21, 2024, represents possibly his final chance to evade extradition and the potential 175-year sentence awaiting him for his role in disseminating classified information via WikiLeaks.

A demonstrator holds a poster of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian embassy in … [+] central London, on June 29, 2012, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seeking asylum. Julian Assange has defied a British police order to turn himself in Friday for extradition to Sweden and will remain holed up in Ecuador’s embassy, a spokeswoman for the WikiLeaks founder said. Assange, who has applied for asylum in Ecuador, was served notice on Thursday to surrender himself to a central London police station, but decided not to comply. Photo credit should read CARL COURT

AFP via Getty Images

Bitcoin’s was initially designed to bypass financial intermediaries, thus granting individuals unparalleled financial independance. Over the years, it has transcended its foundational peer-to-peer exchange mechanism. Innovations like the Lightning Network have significantly enhanced the efficiency of bitcoin transactions. Its supporting role as a hedge against inflation and economic volatility has stimulated the interest of investors worldwide, positioning it as a formidable alternative to depreciating fiat currencies.

This evolution of bitcoin received an institutional stamp of approval in January 2024, when the United States Securities and Exchange Commission green-lit a spot bitcoin ETF, a watershed moment in bitcoin’s journey towards mainstream financial acceptance. This eagerly awaited approval was a critical endorsement from heavyweight institutional players, including BlackRock
BLK
and Fidelity, signaling a surge in institutional interest.

The approval of spot bitcoin ETFs was a key moment in the broader acceptance of digital currencies. As bitcoin continues to navigate regulation, its role as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a hedge against inflation is expected to be further cemented. The increasing participation of institutional investors reinforces the conviction in bitcoin’s sustainability and capacity to transform global financial systems fundamentally.

The intertwining stories of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange highlight the complex nexus between digital privacy, government transparency, and financial autonomy. Snowden’s comparison of bitcoin to historical advancements in currency, such as coinage, demonstrates its transformative potential in challenging traditional financial systems.

As regulatory hurdles are gradually overcome and institutional adoption rises, bitcoin’s role in reshaping finance becomes increasingly evident. Embracing the decentralized ethos championed by bitcoin heralds a new era of economic empowerment and soverienty, extending its influence beyond traditional financial.

Ethiopia’s $250 Million Tech Expansion In Bitcoin And AI

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/18/ethiopias-250-million-tech-expansion-in-bitcoin-and-ai/

Photo by Getty Images

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Ethiopia plans to establish a $250 million bitcoin mining and AI data center, led by the Russian bitcoin mining company BitCluster, The project is a milestone in the country’s journey towards integrating cutting-edge technologies such as bitcoin and artificial intelligence into its economic infrastructure.

Aiming to become a global digital economy leader, Ethiopia is leveraging its renewable energy sources to power the advancement of bitcoin mining and AI development. A component of this ambitious initiative is Project Mano, a plan aimed at harnessing Ethiopia’s renewable energy resources. It objective is to serve as a blueprint for integrating these technologies into Ethiopia’s economy.

The initiative involves the construction of a 120-megawatt, 30,000-square-meter facility in Addis Ababa, adjacent to the Kilinto high-voltage substation. It is strategically located to leverage Ethiopia’s vast renewable energy resources, primarily hydroelectric power from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Africa’s largest hydroelectric project. This sustainable approach ensures an uninterrupted power supply essential for the energy-intensive process of bitcoin mining, while also contributing to the country’s environmental goals.

The facility’s substantial capacity will support over 34,000 Antminer S21 200Th miners, adding a significant 6.8 EH/s, or approximately 1.2% of the total bitcoin network hash rate. This development underscores the growing emphasis on renewable energy in the bitcoin mining sector. It highlights the geographic diversification of mining operations to areas offering both climatic advantages and renewable energy sources.

This is seen as a game-changer for Ethiopia, aligning with the country’s broader aspirations to become a hub for technological innovation and sustainable development. By tapping into its renewable energy potential, Ethiopia aims to attract global attention and investment in its tech sector, creating new opportunities for employment, growth and development.

The choice of Ethiopia as a site for this investment reflects a growing trend among bitcoin miners to seek out locations that offer cost-effective and sustainable energy solutions and a welcoming regulatory environment.

As the Project Mano proposal highlights, Ethiopia’s initiative to integrate bitcoin mining into its economy could potentially add $2 to $4 billion annually to its GDP. This strategic move could significantly bolster the nation’s economy, enhance its technological infrastructure, and position it as a leader in the clean energy-driven future of bitcoin mining.

This development represents an important moment for Ethiopia, signaling its readiness to embrace the opportunities presented by blockchain technology and AI. As the project unfolds, it will undoubtedly draw global attention to Ethiopia’s burgeoning tech industry and its commitment to sustainable and innovative economic development.

Bypassing Financial Gatekeepers With Bitcoin

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/14/bypassing-financial-gatekeepers-with-bitcoin/

Photo by Jens Kalaene

picture alliance via Getty Images

In a world where large financial institutions influence the global economy, bitcoin stands out as a force for change, driving forward inclusion and diversity in the financial sector.

At its core, bitcoin represents more than just digital currency; it symbolizes a departure from the age-old financial structures dominated by a few large entities and families. These gatekeepers, often criticized for consolidating wealth among the elite, have perpetuated a cycle that extracts wealth from the economically disadvantaged.

Contrary to the centralized control of traditional banking, bitcoin enables direct financial exchanges without intermediaries. It reduces transaction costs and opens up access to financial services, especially for the unbanked populations worldwide. This is not just theoretical; it’s observable in real-world applications and initiatives that illustrates bitcoin’s potential to revolutionize how we think about and interact with money.

Enter Fedimint and Cashu, innovative projects that reveal bitcoin’s capacity to strengthen communities by equipping them with the tools to establish their own decentralized banks.

Fedimint leverages bitcoin to create a community custody and financial inclusion protocol, enhancing privacy and security for its users. By pooling their bitcoin holdings, communities can form a federated mint, operating on collective consensus. This model not only bolsters security and privacy but also instills a sense of community ownership and financial autonomy, a contrast to the hierarchical nature of traditional banking.

Similarly, Cashu builds on bitcoin’s technology to further decentralize financial power. It provides a secure and private platform for individuals to manage and transact in digital currencies, challenging the longstanding dominance of overbearing financial institutions. Cashu and Fedimint show the move towards financial self-sovereignty, filling the void left by traditional banks that have failed to cater to the masses’ needs.

Unlike traditional cooperative bank setups, where bureaucratic hurdles and regulatory gatekeeping can limit establishment and access, Mints like Fedimint and Cashu offer a groundbreaking approach. They remove barriers imposed by paperwork, governments, or traditional banks, democratizing finance in a way that allows anyone to participate. In this model, the community itself becomes the bank, representing the principles of decentralization and collective ownership.

These initiatives stand at the forefront of a broader movement to challenge big banks and the conventional financial establishment. This signals a redistribution of power within the global economy, marking a step towards a decentralized and equitable financial future.

The impact of bitcoin extends beyond the philosophical and into the practical, especially in emerging economies plagued by financial instability and inequality. In Venezuela, for instance, bitcoin has emerged as a critical tool for citizens battling hyperinflation, offering a more stable and accessible means to preserve their savings.

Across Africa, bitcoin facilitates cross-border transactions without high fees or the necessity for traditional banking infrastructure, enabling businesses and individuals to partake in the global economy. In Lebanon, amidst severe economic distress, bitcoin provides a lifeline for individuals seeking to avoid financial restrictions and safeguard their wealth from currency devaluation.

Fedimint and Cashu represent a move away from the reliance on large corporations and towards community empowerment. Projects are driven by a desire to see the unmet needs of the people. It’s a testament to the power of bitcoin and its underlying technology to effect change, not through confrontation but by creating alternatives that cater to the unbanked and underserved.

As projects like Fedimint and Cashu thrive, they don’t just challenge the status quo; they lay the groundwork for a future where financial liberation and access are not privileges but rights accessible to all. The rest of the world may follow, recognizing that the path to true financial inclusivity lies not within the walls of towering banks but in the collective hands of empowered communities.

Craig Wright’s Legal Battle Over Satoshi’s Identity Unravels In Court

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/12/craig-wrights-legal-battle-over-satoshis-identity-unravels-in-court/

Dr Craig Wright arrives at the Rolls Building in London for a hearing over the identity of the … [+] creator of Bitcoin. The hearing is being held to determine whether or not computer scientist Dr Wright is the pseudonymous “Satoshi Nakamoto” – the person who created the digital currency in 2008. Wright, an Australian inventor and academic, said he was Bitcoin’s creator in 2016 but the claim has drawn scepticism. Picture date: Monday February 5, 2024. (Photo by Lucy North/PA Images via Getty Images)

PA Images via Getty Images

The ongoing legal drama between the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance and Craig Wright in London has left onlookers astonished. Each revelation seems to cast ripples of uncertainty and produce more questions than answers, further muddying the waters.

At the heart of the case is Wright’s contentious claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of bitcoin. This claim has been met with skepticism and scrutiny, leading to legal battles aiming to find the truth.

The trial is a showcase of detailed technical evidence, punctuated by moments of drama. In one instance, Wright exclaimed in court, “But I AM Satoshi!” This declaration occurred during cross-examination by Jonathan Hough, representing COPA. The evidence presented challenges his claim. Wright’s statement is a key part of his argument for ownership over the intellectual property and rights associated with the creation of bitcoin and its foundational whitepaper.

Adding a layer of complexity to the situation was an incident involving the live stream of the proceedings. The court nearly had to discontinue the live stream after a photo of Hodlonaut, a bitcoiner who won a defamation case against Wright in Norway, was taken from the live stream and posted online. The photos were particularly sinister considering Coingeek reports that Wright had put a $5,000 bounty for whoever finds Hodlonaut’s true identity.

This led to concern from the court, and Judge Mellor made it clear that it violated the terms of the stream and that the court could revoke the service if it continued.

Hodlonaut, who traveled to London from Norway specifically to observe the proceedings, commented on the trial’s developments. He said, ‘It has been bizarre to watch Craig Wright on the stand so far. Discrediting his own expert witness and making up ever more incredible stories to try to explain away the huge amount of forgeries he has filed as evidence.’

Wright’s financial backing has also come under scrutiny. He denied being bankrolled by billionaire Calvin Ayre for his litigation efforts, a claim contradicting statements made in the Wright vs. McCormack case, where Wright acknowledged Ayre’s financial support. In the current trial, Wright argues that what he received from Ayre was not funding but a loan, adding more confusion to the case.

In yet another stunning twist during trial, Wright admitted to the court that some of the documents he presented supporting his claim as Satoshi Nakamoto were indeed forged, a revelation that once again sent a wave of disbelief through the courtroom. This admission came after COPA’s meticulous presentation of evidence highlighting time discrepancies in the documents, such as fonts that were not available when the documents were supposedly created.

Wright attributed the forgies to various external factors, including errors by former solicitors, sabotage by disgruntled employees, hacking by malicious actors, and even unspecified anomalies within the IT environment that could have altered documents autonomously. These defenses paint a picture of Wright as a victim of circumstances beyond his control and introduce a complex web of excuses that aim to dilute his responsibility and cause confusion.

Perhaps one of the most surprising moments in the trial so far, and there have been many, was when Wright waived privilege. Wright’s lawyers, understanding the potential ramifications, reacted swiftly. This prompted his lawyer to emphasize the need for control and protection for what he described as a “vulnerable witness.”

As the trial progressed, it continued to analyze many digital documents and their authentication, the reliability of electronic evidence, and the relationships and agreements underpinning the early days of bitcoin’s development.

The COPA v. Wright case is more than a legal battle over copyright claims and the identity of bitcoin’s creator. The result of this case could redefine the future of governance, intellectual property rights, and the legacy of bitcoin itself.

The trial continues….

Craig Wright’s High-Stakes Legal Battle Over Bitcoin’s Origin And Copyright

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/07/craig-wrights-high-stakes-legal-battle-over-bitcoins-origin-and-copyright/

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 06: Dr. Craig Wright arrives at the Rolls Building, part of the Royal … [+] Courts of Justice on February 06, 2024 in London, England. The Australian-born and English-resident computer scientist, Dr. Craig Wright, claims to be the mythical founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, and asserts authorship of the 2008 white paper, a foundational document for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) is urging the court to declare otherwise, arguing that this legal intervention seeks to mitigate the potentially adverse effects of lawsuits initiated by Wright. Photo by Dan Kitwood

Getty Images

The court set the stage for the intriguing legal face-off between the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance Vs. Craig Wright, who claims he is the creator of bitcoin. As the proceedings got underway, the atmosphere was charged not by confrontational debates but by the intense heat in the room, adding a layer of physical discomfort to the already high-stakes legal examination.

This case will dissect and investigate the complex issues surrounding copyright claims and the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s mysterious creator.

At the centre of the dispute lies the question of the true identity behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto and the ownership of the copyright to the bitcoin whitepaper. The legal proceedings on day two of the case, held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, provided an intriguing glimpse into the complexities and nuances of this landmark case.

Lawyers from Bird & Bird and Macfarlanes, representing COPA and the bitcoin developers respectively, faced off against Craig Wright’s legal team from Shoosmiths in a legal battle that has attracted widespread attention. COPA is supported by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, highlighting the significant backing and resources available to the alliance in its legal efforts.

In the sweltering courtroom, worsened by an air conditioning failure, over 20 lawyers engaged in a legal showdown. Craig Wright stood out in his unique ensemble of a light blue pinstripe suit, purple tie, red socks, and glossy black and white patent shoes, in contrast to the traditional dark attire of others.

The day began with housekeeping from Judge Mellor, who reviewed the procedural aspects of the case, setting the tone for a day of examination. Wright’s claims of being Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin, were met with skepticism and labeled as “a brazen lie” by COPA’s legal team. The focal point of the dispute centered around the copyright of the bitcoin whitepaper and the intellectual property rights associated with the bitcoin blockchain.

Within these contentious claims, Wright’s assertion about the origin of the bitcoin whitepaper and its preliminary version, referred to as ‘BlackNet,’ emerged as a focal aspect of the debate.

During the proceedings, when questioned about the origins of the bitcoin whitepaper, which Wright alleges was initially titled ‘BlackNet,’ the court observed the striking similarities between this document and the bitcoin whitepaper. Wright defended his stance by saying, ‘I am allowed to self plagiarise,’ indicating that both works were indeed his own creation by claiming he wrote both papers.

As the cross-examination continued, Wright’s demeanor fluctuated between smugness and evasiveness, particularly when confronted with allegations of document forgery. COPA’s strategy aimed to dismantle Wright’s claims through meticulous questioning and the presentation of evidence that questioned the authenticity of documents Wright had produced to support his claim to the Satoshi identity.

Displayed in Graphisoft Park on September 22, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. The statue’s creators, Reka … [+] Gergely and Tamas Gilly, used anonymized facial features, as Nakamoto’s true identify remains unconfirmed. Photo by Janos Kummer

Getty Images

Wright’s credibility faced severe tests, notably regarding the domain issue and a video he recorded, which raised questions about the authenticity of his claims. Wright’s attempt to prove his ownership of bitcoin domains through a video demonstration backfired due to evident discrepancies and an apparent manipulation of evidence. This episode added layers of doubt to his narrative.

The situation was compounded by the confusion surrounding his credit card statements. Wright provided inconsistent explanations that were meticulously refuted by COPA’s legal team, led by Jonathan Hough. Hough presented solid documentation, including receipts and statements, that contradicted Wright’s accounts.

Wright maintained his claim to the Satoshi identity, even as the evidence presented by COPA painted a picture of inconsistency and confusion. The court scrutinized various documents, including those with misaligned numerals and disputed origins, challenging Wright’s claims of authenticity. The cross-examination revealed a complex web of claims and counterclaims, with Wright’s responses often leading to more questions than answers.

As the day drew to a close, the court was left with a narrative filled with contradictions, challenges to credibility, and unresolved questions about the origins of one of the most significant technological innovations of the 21st century.

The COPA vs. Craig Wright case represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate over the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto and the foundational elements of bitcoin.

The case will continue for the next 5 weeks.

El Salvador Embraces Future With Bitcoin As Bukele Secures Historic Victory

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/05/el-salvador-embraces-future-with-bitcoin-as-bukele-secures-historic-victory/

Supporters of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele gather outside the National Palace to celebrate his … [+] re-election during the presidential and legislative elections in San Salvador on February 4, 2024. El Salvador’s gang-busting President Nayib Bukele claimed to have won reelection with more than 85 percent of votes cast Sunday. “According to our numbers we have won the presidential election with more than 85 percent of votes,” he announced on X, formerly Twitter, followed minutes later with massive fireworks in the capital San Salvador. Photo by Marvin RECINOS

AFP via Getty Images

Nayib Bukele’s re-election as El Salvador’s President in a landslide victory is not just a political triumph but also affirmation of the country’s ongoing bitcoin adoption. Garnering more than 85% of the votes.

Bukele’s victory underscores the population’s overwhelming support for his leadership and his unconventional policies, including the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender​​​​​​.

Translation: According to our numbers, we have won the presidential election with more than 85% of the votes and a minimum of 58 of 60 deputies in the Assembly. The record in the entire democratic history of the world. See you at 9pm in front of the National Palace.

Bukele’s initial term was marked by bold initiatives aimed at transforming El Salvador’s economy. Since making bitcoin legal tender in 2021, El Salvador has ventured into uncharted financial waters, attracting international attention and, at times, criticism. Despite the skepticism from entities like the International Monetary Fund, Bukele’s administration has remained steadfast in its commitment to bitcoin, integrating it into the nation’s economy and planning future projects.

The re-election signals not just continuity but potentially an expansion of El Salvador’s pro-bitcoin agenda. Bukele’s administration has already introduced various initiatives to promote bitcoin usage, including the Chivo wallet, the deployment of bitcoin ATMs, and ambitious plans for a bitcoin city powered by geothermal energy from the country’s volcanoes​​.

The partnership with Tether
USDT
to introduce the ‘El Salvador Freedom Visa Program’ allows individuals to obtain Salvadoran citizenship by investing in USDT or BTC
BTC
, showcasing the government’s approach to leveraging bitcoin for economic and social development​​.

Critics of Bukele’s policies point to the potential risks and volatility associated with bitcoin investments. Yet, the government’s endeavors, coupled with a significant reduction in gang-related violence thanks to Bukele’s security strategies, have bolstered his popularity among Salvadorans. The success of these initiatives has not only improved local living conditions but has also placed El Salvador at the forefront of a global conversation about the role of digital currencies in national economies​​​​.

As El Salvador continues to navigate the complexities of being the first nation to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, the world watches closely. Bukele’s re-election offers him a mandate to further his bitcoin-centric vision, potentially setting a precedent for other nations considering similar paths. The outcome of these policies will likely influence global regulations and the adoption of digital currencies by other countries​​​​.

Bukele’s landslide victory is a testament to the Salvadoran population’s endorsement of his governance and bitcoin strategy. While challenges remain, particularly in balancing the enthusiasm for cryptocurrency with economic stability and international relations, Bukele’s second term presents an opportunity to solidify El Salvador’s position as a pioneering bitcoin nation.

Valkyrie’s Spot Bitcoin ETF Diversifies Coin Custody With Coinbase And BitGo

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/05/valkyries-spot-bitcoin-etf-diversifies-coin-custody-with-coinbase-and-bitgo/

A smart phone is displaying the Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund ETF stock on the NASDAQ market in this photo … [+] illustration in Brussels, Belgium, on January 12, 2024. Photo by Jonathan Raa

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Valkyrie, a leading digital asset investment firm, has set a new standard for the security and management of Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds. A recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that Valkyrie is offering a more secure approach by diversifying the custody of its bitcoin. This strategic move involves collaborating with BitGo, a custodian provider, in addition to continuing its partnership with Coinbase, thereby enhancing the resilience and reliability of its investment vehicle.

The initiative, detailed in an SEC filing from February 1, 2024, signifies Valkyrie’s commitment to strengthening the security framework of its spot bitcoin ETF. This step to engage multiple custodians marks an effort to distribute the risk and safeguard investor funds more effectively.

SEC Form 8-K Valkyrie

SEC

The collaboration was formalized on January 17, 2024, when Valkyrie and BitGo, a South Dakota trust company recognized for its adherence to stringent banking regulations, entered into a Custodial Services Agreement. Under this agreement, BitGo will assume responsibility for the custody and safekeeping of a portion of Valkyrie’s bitcoin holdings.

This move to diversify custody services is a response to the growing demand for higher security standards with bitcoin self-custody. By partnering with BitGo, alongside maintaining its existing arrangement with Coinbase, Valkyrie aims to provide a robust security net for its ETF assets. This decision not only enhances the protection of Valkyrie’s bitcoin ETF but also establishes a new benchmark for other issuers of bitcoin ETFs, underscoring the importance of comprehensive security measures in the management of digital assets.

BitGo and Coinbase are both renowned for their expertise and reliability in digital asset custody, offering advanced security features that are critical in protecting against potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Valkyrie’s approach reflects a growing trend among investment firms to seek out innovative solutions to ensure the safety of digital assets. By leveraging the custodial services of both BitGo and Coinbase, Valkyrie is not only diversifying its security measures but also reinforcing investor confidence in the safety of their bitcoin ETF investments.

As the bitcoin market continues to evolve, the emphasis on security has become paramount. Valkyrie’s initiative to engage multiple custodians for its bitcoin ETF is a testament to the firm’s proactive stance on investor protection.

This strategic decision not only sets a new industry standard but also highlights the critical role of advanced custody solutions in sustainable growth and the stability of digital asset investments.

Lebanon’s Economic Rebirth Through Bitcoin

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/02/02/lebanons-economic-rebirth-through-bitcoin/

TOPSHOT – Lebanese demonstrators wave national flags during a demonstration on the sixth day of … [+] protest against tax increases and official corruption in the centre of the capital Beirut’s downtown district on October 22, 2019. Tens of thousands of Lebanese protesters kept the country on lockdown as they gathered for a sixth consecutive day demanding new leaders despite the government’s adoption of an emergency economic rescue plan. Photo by ANWAR AMRO

AFP via Getty Images

According to the World Bank, the situation in Lebanon is regarded as one of the “most severe global crises since the mid-nineteenth century.” This has arisen from three decades of imprudent fiscal and monetary policies, leading to the currency’s decline by over 95 percent of its value before this downturn.

The currency is in a state of collapse, corruption is widespread, and the banking sector is in turmoil. Samar Hawa of Rebirth Beirut has seen how these challenges have pushed the Lebanese people into difficulty.

Reflecting on the nation’s resilience, Samar notes, “The Lebanese, like a Phoenix, rise from the ashes. It’s beautiful but sad.” This sentiment resonates with the mission of Rebirth Beirut, an initiative committed to supporting Lebanon in its time of economic crisis and societal rebuilding.

The Lebanese Pound, also known as the Lebanese Lira, has undergone an devastating depreciation, leaving citizens like Samar contending with the erosion of their life savings. As of October 17, 2019, even USD deposits were not spared and transformed into what locals have termed ‘Lollars,’ a phrase coined by a Lebanese economist. This meant that in practical terms, having $100 in the bank equated to being able to use it as only $10, highlighting the stark devaluation and financial reality facing the country.

This situation not only underscores the crippling financial crisis but also serves as a glaring example of third-party risk, as banks faced insolvency after a bank run. It exposes the hazards associated with centralized policymaking that may not always align with the best interests of the people. Despite four years of chaos, Lebanon still lacks a capital control law and effective crisis management measures.

In contrast, bitcoin offers a clear alternative with its core principles of self-custody, empowering individuals to access their funds without the need for external permission. Its transparency mitigates the risk of arbitrary policies that could devalue currency, and its immutable and reliable consensus mechanism ensures a decentralized and secure financial system, eliminating the vulnerabilities of a single point of failure and significantly reducing the likelihood of fraud.

Photo by Keystone

Getty Images

The Lebanese economy, often swayed by political shifts, faced a shock in 2019. The government’s proposal to hike taxes on essential services sparked nationwide protests. In response, the banks shut, trapping people’s funds and leaving many, except for the few very influential people, mainly the bank owners and the “Tier 1” politicians, unable to access their savings. This event led to a significant devaluation of bank deposits, with people’s savings losing a considerable portion of their value overnight, plunging the economy towards collapse. The Lebanese Pound, which was at 1,500 LBP per dollar in October 2019, had devalued to 141,000 LBP per dollar in March 2023 and stands at around 89,000 LBP per dollar today, witnessing an overall devaluation of approximately 98.5%.

For the first time in Lebanon’s history, the country defaulted on its debt in March 2020. This was followed by the devastating explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020, which further plunged the country into social and economic distress.

Lebanon’s public sector, riddled with corruption, has been unable to provide even the most basic services, including proper healthcare, retirement plans, 24-hour electricity, drinkable water – people install large water containers to stock water for times when it is not provided by the government – maintenance of infrastructure, proper waste disposal, and more.

Yet, in this darkness, bitcoin offers an interesting use case. Georges Haddad, previously working in Investment Management in Canada, returned to Lebanon following the financial collapse to help rebuild his country and started VaultKi, a seed phrase storage solution company that highlights the benefits of self-custody. He sees bitcoin as a solution, “The moment you start understanding bitcoin, you see how broken money is. It’s broken everywhere,” he states. “Lebanon, with its deep economic scars, is a testament to the fragility of fiat currencies.”

Many Lebanese remain unbanked or have faced forced de-banking due to the financial crisis. Bitcoin
BTC
also addresses the challenge of hoarding cash at home. Those with surplus income and savings have lost trust in the banking system and often need help opening foreign bank accounts due to international regulations.

Bitcoin is a hedge against rampant inflation, which has plagued Lebanon in recent years with staggering estimates. It provides a means to circumvent illicit capital controls and restrictions imposed by the banking sector. In this context, stablecoins are used as an interim measure, offering easy access to dollar, serving as a stepping stone amid the crisis.

Rebirth Beirut, an initiative born from the rubble, have recently started receiving bitcoin donations to help fund their initiatives. These donations help fund projects such as installing cables from private generators to light up the streets.

Georges draws parallels between Lebanon’s collapse and the potential downfall of larger economies globally, albeit at a slower pace. “Lebanon could only be five to ten years ahead. It can happen in a blink of an eye,” he warns.

In the past, Lebanon’s banking sector was considered a pillar of economic stability, the “Switzerland of the Middle East.” But years of mismanagement and corruption have eroded that trust.

This combination of pictures created on June 29, 2020 shows the black market rate, as calculated by … [+] specialised websites. Photo by JOSEPH EID

AFP via Getty Images

This crisis, while unique in its specifics, is symptomatic of a global issue with fiat currencies. Bitcoin, with its finite supply and decentralized nature, offers an alternative. Georges envisions a future where bitcoin doesn’t just operate as a currency but as a wake-up call to the perils of unchecked money printing and centralization.

Georges believes Lebanese expatriates will play an important role due to them being responsible for a large portion of the nation’s remittance inflows. With $6 billion a year sent home, bitcoin’s low fees and fast transaction times present an attractive alternative to traditional banking.

Lebanon’s case is ripe for bitcoin adoption, driven by expatriates and a general distrust of centralized authorities. The country’s rich and largely unexploited energy resources – sun, wind, hydro, and potentially gas – offer fertile ground for bitcoin mining. This industry could bring much-needed stability, wealth, and potentially contribute to the decades-long electricity problem.

Samar and Georges share a cautious optimism for their homeland. The path forward is fraught with challenges, but the promise of bitcoin and the spirit of the Lebanese people hold the key to a rebirth. “I am hopeful as a person.” says Samar, “While the road ahead presents challenges, I am encouraged by the revival of hope and the restoration of infrastructure, led by the diligent efforts of the private sector. This foundation of resilience and innovation gives me hope for the future.”

In Lebanon’s struggle, bitcoin is more than a financial asset; it’s a symbol of change, a testament to the power of innovation, and perhaps the country’s first step towards a future where the currency is as resilient as its people.

Hong Kong Regulator Accepts First Application For A Spot Bitcoin ETF

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/31/hong-kong-regulator-accepts-first-application-for-a-spot-bitcoin-etf/

Photo by Philippe LOPEZ

AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong is making strides towards the introduction of a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund. A local financial firm is reportedly in the advanced stages of planning to launch funds in the first quarter of 2024, according to Bloomberg. This development represents a major step in the expansion and acceptance of bitcoin vehicles in the region. This comes amid growing interest in bitcoin ETFs globally, following the recent approvals in the United States.

Harvest Fund Management, a major asset management company in China, submitted the first application for a spot bitcoin ETF to the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong. The SFC has expressed readiness to accept applications for spot crypto ETFs, signaling a shift in the region’s approach to bitcoin regulation and investment.

The potential listing of the ETF on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange could happen within a few months according to Bloomberg, as the regulator aims to expedite the approval process. This initiative reflects the city’s growing interest in embracing bitcoin as a mainstream investment tool. The approval process in Hong Kong is expected to follow a trajectory similar to that of the U.S., where the Securities and Exchange Commission recently greenlit multiple bitcoin ETFs.

Venture Smart Financial Holdings, another Hong Kong-based financial services firm, is also planning to launch an ETF investing directly in bitcoin. This development underscores the region’s interest in tapping into the burgeoning cryptocurrency market. The firm’s target is to reach a substantial amount in assets under management by the end of the year, demonstrating confidence in the potential of bitcoin and crypto-based ETFs.

Photo by Anthony Kwan

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These developments in Hong Kong are occurring at a time when the global financial markets are witnessing increasing interest in bitcoin investments. The recent market movements, especially in bitcoin, show a trend towards diversifying traditional investment portfolios to include digital assets. The approval of spot bitcoin ETFs in Hong Kong is likely to encourage more investors and financial institutions to consider bitcoin as a viable investment option.

Hong Kong’s unique position as a Special Administrative Region of China. Operating under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, Hong Kong maintains its own legal and financial system. This autonomy allows Hong Kong to adopt a distinct approach to bitcoin regulation, which can contrast with the more restrictive policies seen in Mainland China. Understanding this difference is key to assessing the impact and significance of Hong Kong’s steps towards embracing spot bitcoin ETFs.

China’s history with bitcoin has been marked by a series of regulatory actions, beginning in 2013 when the People’s Bank of China and other financial watchdogs issued a notice prohibiting banks from handling bitcoin transactions.

In 2017, during a significant rise in bitcoin’s global presence, the Chinese government further tightened its stance by banning bitcoin exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings within the country. The crackdown led many bitcoin businesses in China to either cease operations or move to friendlier countries. This migration initially disrupted the global hash rate and market liquidity but eventually led to a diversified and resilient bitcoin network.

Despite these regulations, bitcoin continued to attract interest in China, with individuals and businesses seeking alternative ways to engage with the digital asset. The contrast between Mainland China’s regulatory approach and recent developments in Hong Kong, like the proposed bitcoin spot ETF, highlights a complex relationship with bitcoin in the region.

This development could serve as a benchmark for other Asian markets considering similar advancements in digital finance.

Academic Challenges United Nation’s Misleading Bitcoin Mining Study

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/29/academic-challenges-united-nations-misleading-bitcoin-mining-study/

Photo by Eduardo Munoz-Pool

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In a strong response reflecting Brandolini’s Law, Margot Paez, a distinguished fellow at the Bitcoin Policy Institute, shatters the facade of the United Nations University’s recent study on bitcoin mining. Her incisive critique, titled ‘Brandolini’s Law in Action: An Analysis of the United Nations University’s Bitcoin Mining,’ is not just a scholarly counterargument; it’s a call for intellectual integrity in academic research.

Under Paez’s meticulous lens, the United Nations University’s bitcoin mining study, once hailed as a comprehensive analysis of bitcoin mining’s energy consumption, now reveals a troubling pattern of oversight and disconnect from the established body of research in this important area.

This disconnection highlights the relevance of Brandolini’s Law, also known as the ‘Bullsh*t Asymmetry Principle’. In 2016, Williamson clearly captured this concept:.

“The amount of energy needed to refute bullsh*t is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.”

This principle underscores the significant effort and commitment Paez has dedicated to challenging and rectifying the misinformation presented in the study.

Fueled by this principle, Paez’s analysis delves into the study’s selective bias, data misapplication, and flawed methodologies. She unravels the inherent issues in projecting past data onto future trends without considering the rapidly evolving nature of the industry.

The study’s reliance on outdated and discredited sources highlights a critical issue in academic circles: selective bias. This approach undermines research integrity, especially when it fails to incorporate the latest findings in the field.

Key developments in bitcoin mining, particularly its role in enhancing grid reliability and fostering the transition to renewable energy, are absent in their analysis.

Such omissions skew the study’s conclusions and mislead policymakers who rely on these findings to shape industry regulations. The study’s tendency to cherry-pick data points and perspectives reflects a broader issue in academic research, where groundbreaking advancements and nuanced understandings are often sidelined in favor of more established yet potentially outdated narratives.

The study’s methodology raises serious concerns about its application in policy formulation. Without considering the dynamic and rapidly changing nature of bitcoin mining technology and its energy consumption, the authors’ projection of past data trends into the future leads to inaccurate and potentially misleading conclusions.

The lack of recognition of the discontinuation of key data sources like the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index further worsens the problem. Such flawed methodologies misrepresent the impact of bitcoin mining on developing economies and social justice and suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of the subject matter.

Based on these shaky foundations, the recommendation to switch from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake reveals a significant gap in understanding the intricacies of bitcoin mining and its environmental implications.

Paez emphasizes the study’s failure to consider newer research highlighting bitcoin mining’s potential to support grid reliability and advance renewable energy. Instead, they published in American Geophysical Union’s Earth’s Future, relying on historical trends and discredited sources.

Paez’s thorough examination, although laborious and taxing, aims to set the record straight. She argues for more transparent and collaborative research involving the renewable energy sector, the bitcoin mining community, and researchers. Sound policymaking, she insists, should be based on robust data and cross-sector cooperation, not on isolated and flawed academic exercises.

Photo by Omer Taha Cetin

Anadolu via Getty Images

As the bitcoin mining industry matures, research and policy must adapt accordingly, ensuring a balanced understanding of the industry’s challenges and opportunities.

In a world with abundant energy resources, the focus of our discussion needs to shift. With bitcoin mining, we possess the innovative tools to harness these vast, often stranded or wasted energy reserves. Rather than centering the conversation on reducing energy usage, it’s time to explore how we can effectively tap into the planet’s plentiful energy sources.

This approach could transform the narrative from limitation to strategic utilization, leveraging bitcoin mining as a key to unlocking the full potential of our global energy resources.

Technology is advancing at breakneck speed, and the veracity of information is paramount. Organizations like the Bitcoin
BTC
Policy Institute will become increasingly vital. Thanks to academics like Margot Paez, we don’t have to trust; we can verify.

Bitcoin Overtakes Silver As Second Largest ETF Commodity

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/24/bitcoin-overtakes-silver-as-second-largest-etf-commodity/

Photo by Yuriko Nakao

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Bitcoin
BTC
ETFs have marked a significant milestone, surpassing the market capitalization of traditional silver ETFs in a remarkably short timeframe. This highlights the growing interest and acceptance of bitcoin as a legitimate asset class in the global financial market.

The origins of ETFs date back to the early 1990s. The investment world has witnessed the evolution of these products from tracking traditional asset classes like stocks and commodities to encompassing digital assets like bitcoin. Over the years, ETFs expanded to include a variety of assets, including precious metals like gold and silver, reflecting changing investor appetites.

The recent approval of the first spot bitcoin ETF in the United States is a landmark event in the financial sector and a once-in-a-decade occurrence according to Eric Balchunas, an ETF analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. It offers investors direct exposure to bitcoin within traditional finance.

The regulatory approval for bitcoin ETFs has been a journey of gradual acceptance and stringent scrutiny, with regulatory bodies like the SEC intensifying their focus on digital assets.

At the time of writing, a recent analysis from the Stock Analysis website reveals the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF is the front-runner for all bitcoin ETFs, boasting a staggering market cap of approximately $24.8 billion. This figure not only eclipses the market cap of major silver ETFs but also reflects investor confidence in bitcoin as a viable investment vehicle​​.

While GBTC currently has an impressive market cap, it’s important to note that it has been experiencing significant sell pressure recently. Reports indicate that FTX, sold about $1 billion worth of shares in GBTC. This substantial sale has been a contributing factor to the outflows from the ETF, which have exceeded $2 billion within a short period of just five trading days.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 11: Samara Cohen, Chief Investment Officer of ETF and Index Investments … [+] at Blackrock, (C) rings the opening bell as Bitcoin Spot ETF’s are launched on the Nasdaq Exchange on January 11, 2024 in New York City. The trading of several exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tied to the milestone for the cryptocurrency industry that has been seeking regulatory approval for the financial product for over a decade.Photo by Stephanie Keith

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The conversion of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to an ETF is speculated to potentially unlock a massive sale of up to $18 billion in bitcoin, creating additional selling pressure in the market. Despite these outflows, it should be noted that the broader market for bitcoin ETFs, including offerings from other providers like BlackRock and Fidelity, have seen substantial inflows, indicating a continued interest in bitcoin as an investment vehicle.

The rapid ascension of bitcoin ETFs is a testament to the digital currency’s increasing mainstream appeal. The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF, which commands a market cap of around $1.65 billion, further underscores the sector’s robust growth. Other significant players in this space include the 2x Bitcoin Strategy ETF and the Valkyrie Bitcoin Miners ETF, holding assets of about $228.63 million and $66.33 million, respectively​​.

Contrasting this with the traditional silver market, the iShares Silver Trust, a longstanding leader in silver ETFs, reported net assets of approximately $10 billion as of January 2023. While still substantial, this figure is dwarfed by the leading Bitcoin ETFs, signifying a change in investor preferences​​.

The emergence of bitcoin ETFs represents a broader trend towards digitizing assets and diversifying investment portfolios. Bitcoin, often lauded as ‘digital gold’, is increasingly being viewed as a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty, much like its precious metal counterparts.

The rise of bitcoin ETFs and their overtaking of silver ETFs in market capitalization is a milestone in the financial world. As we witness this change in TradFi, it will be interesting to see how traditional and digital assets interact and reshape future investment strategies.

Milei Promotes ‘Freedom To Transact’ At World Economic Forum

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/16/milei-promotes-freedom-to-transact-at-world-economic-forum/

World Economic Forum (WEF) founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab delivers a speech at the … [+] Congress center during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 21, 2020. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI

AFP via Getty Images

A recent press release from the Oficina del Presidente, the Argentinian Office of the President, has set the stage for what could be a watershed moment at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

PRESS RELEASE

City of Buenos Aires, January 15, 2024 – President Javier Milei will depart this Monday to Switzerland to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will be one of the main speakers.

It is planned that the Head of State will travel from Argentina at 17:30 hours towards Frankfurt, from where he will transfer to Zürich. He will be received there by the Argentine Ambassador to the Swiss Confederation, Gustavo Martínez Pandiani, and then proceed to Davos.

The President of the Nation will be accompanied by a delegation composed of the Chief of Cabinet, Nicolás Posse; the Chancellor, Diana Mondino; and the Minister of Economy, Luis Caputo.

END OF PRESS RELEASE

At Davos, President Milei will speak on the panel “Achieving Security and Cooperation in a Fractured World.” where he will present the main outlines of his economic plan for Argentina to the world leaders. The President’s agenda in Davos will also include bilateral meetings, having received more than 60 requests for audience during his stay in the European city.

Milei has already made waves on the global stage. His unorthodox approach, devoid of populist promises, has set him apart from his predecessors and global counterparts. What’s particularly interesting is his modest delegation of just four individuals—himself, his sister and secretary, the Chancellor, and the Ministry of Economics.

In contrast, previous presidents, have travelled in style aboard private planes with large entourages. He chose a commercial Lufthansa flight, connecting through Frankfurt like any other traveller, highlighting his commitment to a more down-to-earth approach.

At the heart of this endeavour is a mission to plant the seed of freedom. The President aims to reinforce the concept that freedom is the key to prosperity.

Milei’s Economic Vision

President Javier Milei of Argentina is scheduled to share his unconventional economic policies, deeply rooted in the libertarian ethos and the Austrian School of Economics. This approach champions the ‘Freedom to Transact’, a concept that supports individuals’ rights to choose their medium of exchange—fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, or even barter trade.

Milei’s anticipated participation in the forum reflects his commitment to challenging the established financial norms. His agenda in Davos is not just a mere formality; it’s a testament to his administration’s resolve to address Argentina’s economic woes through radical measures, including a proposal to replace the Argentine peso with the U.S. dollar to curb hyperinflation.

/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Domestic Challenges And Global Implications

President Javier Milei’s economic strategy marks a significant shift from Argentina’s historical approach to policy-making. Facing a backdrop of persistent inflation and currency devaluation, his advocacy for dollarizing the Argentine economy represents a bold move towards economic stabilisation.

His openness to integrating cryptocurrencies like bitcoin into the financial system underscores a progressive stance, albeit one that might meet skepticism at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where traditional, centralized financial models often dominate discussions.

Milei’s policies extend beyond mere economic reform; they symbolise a call for greater economic autonomy. His vision champions market-driven dynamics and empowers individuals to determine transactional value, free from central authority intervention. This approach resonates profoundly within Argentina, a nation familiar with fluctuating monetary policies’ repercussions.

The road ahead for Milei is fraught with political complexities. Governing with a minority in Congress, Milei faces formidable challenges in realising his visionary reforms amidst domestic opposition and political dissent. Successfully implementing these changes demands navigating the intricate corridors of Argentina’s political environment and mitigating potential social and economic ramifications.

At Davos, Milei will engage with the global economic elite, presenting his unconventional blueprint that challenges entrenched central banking practices. His participation not only signifies a crucial moment for Argentina but also acts as a catalyst for a broader conversation on embracing alternative economic models globally.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – NOVEMBER 19: Newly elected President of Argentina Javier Milei of La … [+] Libertad Avanza speaks after the polls closed in the presidential runoff on November 19, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. According to official results, Javier Milei of La Libertad Avanza reached 55,69% of the votes and Sergio Massa of Union Por La Patria 44,30%, with 99,25 of the votes counted. The presidential election runoff to succeed Alberto Fernandez comes as Argentinians have been hard hit by an annual 142,7% inflation. (Photo by Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images)

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As digital currencies continue to emerge as influential players in the financial sector, Milei’s presidency may herald a new era for how developing economies interact with these digital assets. His presence in Davos contributes to the evolving discourse on economic diversity and resilience in an interconnected world.

Shaping The Future Of Economic Freedom

In a world where economic policies are increasingly centralized, and the call for financial sovereignty grows louder, Milei’s participation in the World Economic Forum is a moment of reflection for global leaders. It poses a fundamental question: How can nations balance the freedom to transact with the need for economic stability and security?

As Milei takes the podium in Davos, his radical economic ideas will not only shape the future of Argentina but could also influence the monetary principles of the 21st century.

President Milei’s presence in Davos symbolises the growing debate on fiscal freedom and the right to choose how to transact. His leadership is a case study of the balance between national sovereignty in monetary policy and the emerging global trend towards diverse and decentralized economic systems.

UK Undermines ‘Crypto Hub’ Vision As US Approves Bitcoin Spot ETF

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/11/uk-undermines-crypto-hub-vision-as-us-approved-bitcoin-spot-etf-approval/

Photo by Jaap Arriens

NurPhoto via Getty Images

In the worldwide rush to embrace bitcoin, the UK is implementing measures that are inadvertently causing an exodus of crypto-related businesses. While the US moves forward with institutional adoption, allowing entities like BlackRock
BLK
to back bitcoin products, the UK’s stringent regulations stifle its own companies.

This situation represents a policy contradiction and has sparked widespread criticism, countering Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s vision of making the UK a ‘crypto hub’.

As highlighted in a recent Financial Time article, “The hotly anticipated launch of a bitcoin ETF in the US leaves the UK out of step with some other major markets in maintaining its blockade on retail access to exchange-traded crypto funds.”

Many companies are already relocating to more crypto-friendly environments, highlighting the disparity between the UK’s restrictive stance and other major players’ progressive steps.

Background On The New Regulation

In October 2023, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority implemented sweeping new regulations, categorizing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as ‘restricted mass market investments’.

As the FCA admitted, this was against the advice of most of the industry, which had warned that different assets had different risk profiles and should not all be lumped into the same bucket. New rules included implementing a cooling-off period and rigorous client appropriateness testing, with firms initially given a deadline of January 8, 2024, to comply.

The aim was to bring clarity and security to the market while protecting consumers from the inherent risks associated with these high-risk investments. This involved ensuring that firms’ marketing strategies are clear, fair, and not misleading. The results have been far less clear and in some cases actually appear to have increased and not reduced the harm to consumers, leading to criticism from industry experts and stakeholders.

Initially, firms were given a six-month window starting from the issuance of ‘near final’ legislation in May 2023, targeting an implementation date of October 8th. However, this deadline was effectively shortened by two months compared to the original December 8th deadline.

Concerns about the risks of hurried compliance measures potentially endangering customer funds were raised, and consequently the FCA extended the October 8th deadline to January 8th, with firms struggling to meet the evolving compliance requirements within a constrained timeframe.

Despite extending the deadline by three months, the FCA’s approach left many consumers and businesses in a difficult position, particularly with the regulation’s requirement that retail investors should not invest more than 10% of their net assets in high-risk investments like cryptoassets.

Photo Illustration by Jonathan Raa

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Industry Voices: The Impact

Jamie McNaught, CEO of Solidi, a UK-based FCA regulated exchange, gave details. McNaught pointed out the adverse effects of these regulations on consumers, highlighting that honest customers are now stuck with limited options.

In an exclusive interview, McNaught revealed,: “Customers either sell their crypto assets before the deadline, potentially incurring significant capital gains tax, or lie on their applications.’’

On Wednesday, 10 January 2024 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved a bitcoin spot ETF, allowing institutional players like BlackRock to offer products listed on stock exchanges directly backed one-to-one by bitcoin. In the very same week, the U.K. imposed stringent regulations that significantly restricted the purchase of bitcoin. This appears a particularly backward move just when the US, the leading market in the space, has taken such a progressive step forwards.

The FCA’s stringent regulations will impede both access and innovation. We’ve already seen a number of companies pulling out of the UK, or announcing that they’ll no longer serve UK customers, making a total mockery of the UK’s ambitions to become a ‘crypto hub’.

This is a stated policy of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and has been reiterated by various Economic Secretaries to the Treasury; new startups are deterred from setting up in the UK due to these barriers, and many crypto companies are relocating to more crypto-friendly environments like the UAE or Switzerland. Retail investors face more barriers, and getting a business bank account for crypto-related activities has become nearly impossible.

Ark Invest on January 10, 2024 in Paris, France. The first American Bitcoin ETF could be authorized … [+] by the SEC (Commissioner of the American Stock Exchange) as early as Wednesday January 10, 2024. Around ten of the largest financial asset managers in the world have filed an application with the SEC to launch a Bitcoin ETF. After blocking the entry of bitcoin on Wall Street for more than 10 years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should, barring any drama, authorize it on Wednesday by giving the green light to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) invested in bitcoin. (Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

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Guy Turner, co-founder of The Coin Bureau, runs a well-known online platform with 2.4 million subscribers. This platform is highly regarded for delivering comprehensive educational content on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and financial news.

Initially established in the UK, Turner revealed in an exclusive for this Forbes article that the company relocated in 2022. The move was prompted by challenges in accessing banking services within the UK, “As a media entity, we neither issue, trade, nor sell any cryptocurrencies; our sole focus is discussing and reporting on the industry. Recognizing the shifting regulatory landscape in the UK, we made a strategic decision to move to a more crypto-friendly environment in Dubai,” he stated.

As Guy Turner correctly points out, “Investor protection should be taken seriously, and the high-risk nature of digital assets should be emphasized. But, telling people how much of their own money they can invest in an asset class amounts to overreach and is likely unenforceable anyway. And this is a country where anyone can walk into a bookies and lose their shirt in a matter of minutes, with no questions asked”.

Freddie New, Head of Policy at Bitcoin Policy U.K., said, “It’s extremely regrettable that, having consulted with industry experts in this highly complex and novel area, the FCA largely ignored the advice they received. I am fully supportive of regulation that has the effect of reducing customer harm. However, the FCA chose to disregard the detailed feedback from the industry at large, raising concerns. Now, there’s a risk that the U.K. will lose market share in a globally competitive arena. U.K. citizens might turn to unregulated firms to buy bitcoin and other less secure crypto assets, exposing them to greater risks than if the FCA had adopted a more nuanced approach.”.

The Fallout Of UK’s Crypto Regulations

The UK’s approach to crypto regulation, aimed at protecting investors and fostering a safe investment environment, has had unintended consequences. It has led to an increase in customer harm, characterized by the loss of banking facilities and diminished investment and employment opportunities. This strategy has imposed a short-sighted restriction on access to a potentially lucrative asset class, simultaneously driving away innovation.

Bitcoin’s Price Spikes From False SEC Update

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/10/bitcoins-price-spikes-from-false-sec-update/

Photo Illustration by Omar Marques

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bitcoin
BTC
recently experienced a huge price spike followed by an immediate retracement, triggered by a false up date from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission account. This incident unfolded when the SEC posted that they had approved a bitcoin spot Exchange-Traded Funds, a development eagerly awaited by investors.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Hacked Post

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

The report, later confirmed as false, triggered a rapid surge in bitcoin’s price, demonstrating the high responsiveness of the market to regulatory developments. However, the euphoria was short-lived. SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s announcement that the commission’s account on X was compromised, raised questions about the security and reliability of information spread in the digital age.

This event is not just a standalone incident but is representative of the broader issues surrounding digital assets and regulation. The false ETF approval rumor underscores a critical issue – the intersection of market dynamics with news, both real and fake. In the digital era, where information travels at the speed of light, the authenticity and source of such news can significantly sway markets, as clearly demonstrated in this case.

The incident raises concerns about information security. The compromise of an official SEC account, points to vulnerabilities that can be exploited. This is particularly noteworthy considering SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s post on October 24, 2023 regarding cyber security:

The incident raises concerns. The compromise of an official SEC account, points to vulnerabilities that can be exploited to spread misinformation. This is particularly remarkable considering Gary Gensler’s post, which emphasized the importance of securing financial accounts against identity theft and fraud, advising the use of strong passphrases and multifactor authentication.

In a market as speculative and sensitive as cryptocurrencies, the impact of such actions can be profound and far-reaching, underscoring the need for heightened vigilance in cybersecurity practices.

For investors and market participants, this episode serves as an important reminder of the need for caution and due diligence. Reinforcing this sentiment, the SEC posted in October:

Perhaps not.

The reliance on credible sources for information, especially regarding regulatory announcements, cannot be overstated. It also highlights the need for regulatory bodies and platforms to ensure the security and integrity of their communication channels.

As the market matures and attracts more institutional and retail investors, the need for clear, accurate, and secure communication becomes paramount. Incidents like these not only affect market prices but can also erode investor confidence and hinder the path towards greater adoption.

The bitcoin market’s reaction to the false SEC bitcoin spot ETF approval rumor is a microcosm of the challenges faced in the digital asset space. It underscores the importance of reliable information, the impact of regulatory news on market movements, and the ongoing need for robust security measures in digital communication.

For a market that holds immense potential and is at the forefront of financial innovation, navigating these challenges is crucial for its long-term sustainability and success. This reinforces the mantra of ‘Don’t Trust, Verify,’ emphasizing the need for due dilligence, even from trusted institutions.

How Will A Bitcoin Spot ETF Affect Bitcoin’s Price?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/08/how-will-a-bitcoin-spot-etf-affect-bitcoins-price/

Photo Illustration by Omar Marques

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

What Is A Bitcoin Spot ETF?

A bitcoin spot ETF, traded on stock exchanges, holds bitcoin as its primary asset, unlike futures ETFs that rely on future bitcoin contracts. Spot ETFs directly track the price of bitcoin, offering investors exposure to its price movements without owning the asset directly.

This type of ETF has been discussed for over a decade, with recent applications from BlackRock and Fidelity indicating a growing interest with institutions. Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, operates on a decentralized blockchain, offering secure and transparent transactions independent of central banks.

Approval And Timing

The potential U.S. approval of spot bitcoin ETF could be imminent. Nate Geraci, President at The ETF Store, indicated that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission might soon approve these ETFs, with minor amendments requested and a potential Commissioner vote.

Impact On Bitcoin Price

The introduction of a bitcoin spot ETF is expected to significantly impact bitcoin’s price due to increased accessibility and liquidity. This increased demand, coupled with bitcoin’s finite supply, will likely drive prices up. A spot ETF would enable investors to gain exposure to bitcoin’s price movements through an approved investment vehicle, appealing to a broader range of investors.

Some forecasts suggest a more moderate impact on bitcoin’s price. A range of predictions fluctuate between $42,000 and $100,000 following approval.

On the bullish side, experts like Samson Mow, CSO at BlockStream, predict bitcoin could reach $160,000 or even $1,000,000. Anthony Scaramucci also expects a big increase, predicting bitcoin could hit $330,000.

Supply and Demand

The approval of a spot ETF is expected to increase the demand for bitcoin, leading to a supply squeeze. According to PwC, global assets under management now total approximately $115 trillion. With bitcoin’s increased accessibility on stock exchanges, this could lead to large market inflows.

Long/Short-Term Holder Supply Ratio

glassnode

While some long-term bitcoin holders might sell when prices are high, many, known as HODLers, hold on to their bitcoin regardless of market fluctuations. For these investors, bitcoin symbolizes an economic revolution, representing a stance against central banking and advocating for financial sovereignty.

This could lead to a shortage of supply. Along with bitcoin’s capped supply of 21 million coins, this could intensify the supply squeeze as demand increases, driving up bitcoin’s price.

Approving a bitcoin spot ETF would attract individual investors and institutional interest. SEC regulatory oversight of approved ETFs will instil a sense of security in investors seeking institutional endorsement, encouraging wider adoption.

Not Your Keys, Not (Yet) Your Coins

While the prospect of bitcoin spot ETF and the impact on the market is exciting, it’s important to remember the inherent risks. The term “Not your keys, not your coins,” underscores the importance of self-custody in digital currencies. Despite the ETFs convenience, investors must be wary of risks associated with third-party custody.

The potential U.S. approval represents institutional recognition of bitcoin. While these funds may not immediately acquire all available bitcoin, their influence on the market and bitcoin’s price is expected to be considerble.

The events this week are likely to highlight how institutional investment via bitcoin spot ETFs could shape the future of bitcoin and the digital asset space.

4 Bitcoin Businesses Shaping The Future Of Finance

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/03/4-bitcoin-businesses-shaping-the-future-of-finance/

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As we mark the 15th anniversary of Bitcoin’s Genesis Block, we witness a defining chapter in financial history. In just a decade and a half, bitcoin has transformed from an experimental digital currency to a global asset, outperforming traditional assets. Its adoption rate, accelerating nearly twice as fast as the internet’s, is a remarkable shift in mainstream finance.

Happy 15th Birthday to the Bitcoin Genesis Block featuring the headline ‘The Times 03/Jan/2009 … [+] Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks,’ This image symbolizes the foundational moment of Bitcoin, marking its inception and the context of its creation during financial instability.

Satoshi

As bitcoin continues to revolutionize finance, businesses are adopting a bitcoin standard. MicroStrategy leads the charge, with its strategic mastermind, Executive Chairman Michael Saylor, at the helm.

Their bold move into bitcoin has paid off and set a precedent, with a staggering $2 billion in returns. This is a clear signal to the business world: as we approach a bitcoin bull run. The transformative power of bitcoin is not just a future promise—it’s today’s reality, reshaping how companies operate and strategize in a digital economy.

This firm has integrated bitcoin as a critical component of its reserve assets. The bold move has resulted in substantial profits and enhanced their decision-making processes, reflecting a significant shift in corporate asset management strategies. MicroStrategy’s success story, rooted in a long-term commitment to bitcoin, is a benchmark for other enterprises exploring similar paths.

Real Bedford: Kicking Off a Bitcoin Revolution in Football

Real Bedford, excelling in both the Men’s and Ladies’ Leagues, is more than just a football club; it’s a leader in integrating bitcoin into its core operations. Their strategy of utilizing bitcoin for sponsorships and fan engagement has established them as a unique ‘bitcoin team’ in football and a catalyst for a broader bitcoin-centric economic plan for the English market town of Bedford.

This initiative, injecting new life and financial vitality into the often-overlooked town, is the brainchild of Peter McCormack from the “What Bitcoin Did” podcast. McCormack suggests that all businesses should view bitcoin as a ‘cheat code’ for unlocking new customer bases. Real Bedford’s success is a testament to how sports, intertwined with bitcoin, can play an important role in revitalizing local economies and communities.

By cautiously managing their exposure, Real Bedford allocates a small portion of their turnover to bitcoin, striking a balance between potential gains and risk minimization.This approach is similar to a strategic game where every move is calculated for long-term success.

The team is not just playing the game on the field; they’re also modernizing the football business. By integrating bitcoin into their business model, they’ve unlocked new financial opportunities crucial for their ambition to climb the football league ladder. This approach focuses on securing sponsorships related to bitcoin, boosting fan involvement by appealing to bitcoiners, and establishing a distinctive ‘bitcoin team’ identity.

CoinCorner: Playing a Strategic Game in the Isle of Man

CoinCorner, an exchange and financial services company, is steered by Danny Scott as its co-founder and CEO. While concerns about bitcoin bans are prevalent worldwide, CoinCorner remains steadfast, thanks to its strategic location in the Isle of Man, UK. This advantageous positioning gives them a strong defence against fluctuating regulations and allows them to concentrate on their core business. Their business model demonstrates how an enterprise can survive under the regulatory scrutiny of an emerging asset class.

Since 2014, CoinCorner’s decision to hold bitcoin on its balance sheet has been pivotal. This approach maintains its focus on bitcoin, steering clear of other cryptocurrencies and ensuring decisions resonate with their strong bitcoin ethos.

The company has established strong banking relationships and structured its business to pre-empt future regulations like the MiCA framework. There are concerns around regulation, which it is forcing smaller entities out of business and leading to concerns of a wave of industry consolidation and the loss of independent companies.

CoinCorner stays ahead by identifying key trends, such as the increasing use of bitcoin for cross-border business payments. They also focus on improving user bitcoin accessibility, leveraging AI to enhance internal efficiencies – a testament to their commitment to continuous innovation.

Coach Carbon Life: Health And Wealth With Bitcoin Principles

Coach Carbon Life, focusing on integrating bitcoin principles into health, wealth, and life, is led by Josias Carbon. Leveraging CoinCorner’s versatile business account services, the company handles both fiat and bitcoin payments. This is made possible through the efficiency of CoinCorner’s mobile checkout app and its integrated online payment systems, embodying a seamless blend of financial innovation and wellness services.

At the heart of Coach Carbon philosophy is understanding time preference, delayed gratification, and personal responsibility, concepts deeply rooted in bitcoin’s culture. The ability to convert fiat sales and process bitcoin transactions is crucial to their financial strategy. This capability enables them to operate a dynamic business, adapting to the needs and preferences of their clientele.

Incorporating bitcoin fundamentals into its business model mirrors these bitcoin businesses’ strategic and forward-thinking practices. This synergy bolsters operational efficiency and positions them at the forefront of embracing a global currency within health and wellness services.

Solidi: Establishing Solid Ground

Under CEO Jamie McNaught’s leadership, Solidi steps into the spotlight as a UK FCA-regulated exchange, showcasing the importance of regulatory compliance in bitcoin trading. Their approach underscores the necessity of trust and security in digital currency transactions, setting a benchmark for future businesses.

With its unwavering commitment to the UK market, this company is uniquely positioned with an advantageous relationship with regulatory authorities. This rapport, born from an in-depth understanding of regulatory frameworks, empowers them to offer services that set them apart from other exchanges. Their ability to onboard clients without stringent ID requirements is a testament to their regulatory expertise and the trust they have established with the authorities. This proven relationship underscores Solidi’s position as a leading, compliant, and innovative player in the UK.

Compliance and regulation in the UK might seem dry, but they’re crucial. Solidi understands this and has forged a trustworthy platform amid regulatory challenges. They adhere to the highest compliance standards, earning them a reputation as a reliable and regulated destination for secure bitcoin trading in the UK.

New Financial Accounting Standards Board Rules For Bitcoin

New FASB rules mark a significant shift for bitcoin businesses. Previously, companies had to record bitcoin at the lowest price since buying it. Now, they can value it at its current market price. This change allows businesses like Real Bedford, CoinCorner, and Solidi to accurately report bitcoin’s gains and losses. This move reflects bitcoin’s growing acceptance in industry, encouraging more companies to adopt it.

Setting the Stage for Future Innovators

These companies represent more than just businesses adapting to the world of bitcoin; they are the front-runners of a broader movement. They demonstrate that bitcoin can be integrated into diverse business models, from sports to financial services. Their experiences offer valuable insights into embracing the potential for digital currencies and their hurdles.

These pathfinders are reshaping their sectors and laying the groundwork for future enterprises to explore bitcoin’s possibilities. Their blend of innovation and strategic foresight is a blueprint for success. On the 15th anniversary of Bitcoin’s Genesis Block, we see a reflection of its innovative essence in these leading companies, guiding the way for the next generation.

Similar to the impressive gains seen by MicroStrategy, companies like Real Bedford, CoinCorner, Coach Carbon Life, and Solidi demonstrate the transformative impact of integrating bitcoin with a practical and forward-thinking approach. As they continue to navigate, they pave the way for a new generation of businesses ready to harness the power and potential of bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s Role In Human Rights And Global Empowerment

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/02/bitcoins-role-in-human-rights-and-global-empowerment/

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In the unfolding story of bitcoin’s global influence, the Human Rights Foundation stands out for championing bitcoin as a social change and empowerment tool. This narrative is not just about financial transactions; it’s a story of resilience, hope, and human rights.

Bitcoin Dada: Catalyzing Change Through Bitcoin Education

Bitcoin Dada, an initiative led by Lorraine Marcel and supported by the Human Rights Foundation, is a remarkable example of technological empowerment, reshaping conventional approaches. Its inception is not just a story of providing resources; it’s a story of igniting change through financial literacy and liberation, especially in the African context of profound economic disparities.

Marcel’s vision transcends the conventional boundaries of charity. Bitcoin Dada leverages the decentralized and accessible nature of bitcoin to foster financial independence among African women. This initiative is critical in regions where traditional banking is inaccessible or unreliable and where daily economic hardships occur. By introducing bitcoin as a tool, Bitcoin Dada addresses immediate needs and shapes a future where financial self-sufficiency is attainable.

The reach of Bitcoin Dada extends across the African continent, from Kenya to Nigeria, which has one of the highest bitcoin adoption rates. This widespread acceptance highlights the impact of bitcoin’s potential in these communities. In Nigeria, bitcoin is increasingly seen not just as a speculative asset but a viable option for wealth storage, a testament to its growing acceptance and practical utility in everyday life.

BITCOIN DADA’s 5th Cohort Graduation

Bitcoin Dada

These initiatives are designed to demystify bitcoin and make it accessible to a demographic historically sidelined in the financial conversation. Through these programs, Bitcoin Dada is breaking dependency cycles and opening doors to new opportunities.

This is more than an initiative; it’s a movement. Through the lens of bitcoin, Bitcoin Dada is rewriting narratives, offering aid and a path to independence.

Win Ko Ko Aung: A Story of Survival

Win Ko Ko Aung’s story is a powerful testament to bitcoin’s role as a tool for freedom in the face of political oppression. Following the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, Win Ko Ko Aung, a vocal advocate for democracy, found himself targeted and his assets frozen. As a result, he became a wanted person, with his fundamental rights and freedoms under immediate threat.

In this dire situation, bitcoin became a lifeline. With his traditional assets inaccessible, bitcoin provided Win Ko Ko Aung with a secure, unseizable means of financial control. This capability was crucial in facilitating his escape from Myanmar. It was bitcoin’s decentralized and borderless nature that enabled him to convert his digital assets into local currency as he navigated the perilous journey to flee.

Win Ko Ko Aung’s reliance on bitcoin during this critical time highlights its significance beyond investment or speculation. It underlines its utility as essential support for individuals facing political and financial oppression. In countries where those in power weaponize the financial system, bitcoin offers a way out to retain control over one’s financial destiny.

NAYPYIDAW, MYANMAR – FEBRUARY 01: Military soldiers with tanks and police truck block the road near … [+] parliament in Naypyidaw this afternoon in Myanmar on February 1, 2021. Myanmar’s military announced Monday that it has seized power and will rule the country for at least one year after detaining its top political leaders. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency

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Win Ko Ko Aung’s asylum in the United States was facilitated by his use of bitcoin. This speaks volumes about the digital currency’s potential as a tool for preserving human rights and ensuring financial sovereignty, even in the most challenging political climates.

Privacy and Security: The Core Developer’s Focus

In the world of bitcoin development, an anonymous bitcoin core developer, funded by the Human Rights Foundation, plays a crucial role. With over 20 years of software development experience, this developer focuses on crucial aspects of bitcoin’s privacy and security, and has helped with the implementation of privacy related features.

A keen understanding of the delicate balance between innovation and stability marks the developer’s approach to bitcoin’s evolution. Their work involves writing code and navigating the complex process of community consensus, where changes must align with bitcoin’s core principles. This process highlights the democratic nature of bitcoin’s development, where changes are scrutinized and approved by a community of developers and users alike.

This developer’s contributions are particularly significant in regions where financial privacy can mean the difference between freedom and oppression. By enhancing bitcoin’s security features, they ensure that it remains a safe and effective tool for those living under authoritarian regimes.

The Human Rights Foundation’s support for developers like this one reflects an understanding of bitcoin’s broader potential as a tool for human rights. Their work on privacy and security enhancements is more than technical progress; it’s a commitment to preserving bitcoin as a decentralized, secure, and private means of financial empowerment.

Human Rights Foundation’s Role and Future Vision

The Human Rights Foundation’s support in this context is not just about funding technical advancements; it’s about endorsing bitcoin as an instrument for human rights. By funding initiatives like Bitcoin Dada, supporting individuals like Win Ko Ko Aung, and backing development, the HRF fosters a global environment where bitcoin is more than a currency – it’s a lifeline, a tool for emancipation, and a shield against oppression.

As bitcoin continues to evolve, its role in championing freedom and civil liberties becomes more pronounced. The stories of Marcel Atieno, Win Ko Ko Aung, and the bitcoin core developer showcase this powerful narrative. They reveal a future where bitcoin is a part of the financial system and a key player in the global fight for human rights.

What Is Bitcoin’s Price Prediction For 2024?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2024/01/01/what-is-bitcoins-price-prediction-for-2024/

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As 2024 begins, bitcoin stands at $42,665, fueling the market with optimism. A blend of influential factors suggests a potential supercycle is underway. The concept of a bitcoin supercycle, first introduced by bitcoin educator Dan Held, is gaining renewed interest. This optimism is rooted in several key factors strengthening bitcoin’s potential for unprecedented growth.

The Bitcoin Halving

One of the primary drivers of this potential supercycle is the halving event scheduled for April 2024. Historically, halving events, which reduce the reward for mining new blocks and, therefore, the rate at which new bitcoin is generated, have been associated with significant upticks in bitcoin’s value. This reduction in supply, coupled with a steady or increasing demand, is leading to a supply crunch. As a result, there may not be enough bitcoin available for purchase, which will drive the price higher to incentivize long-term holders to sell.

Historical data shows that bitcoin’s price has risen after each halving event, although not immediately. For example, following the 2012 halving, bitcoin’s price rose from around $12 to over $1,000 within a year. Similar patterns were observed after the 2016 and 2020 halvings, with significant price increases occurring months after the events.

The next halving in 2024 will further reduce the block reward from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC, potentially increasing bitcoin’s price as the supply of new bitcoin slows down. This pattern suggests a strong correlation between the halving events and the long-term price appreciation of bitcoin​​​​.

Institutional Interest

Institutional adoption is another crucial factor. The potential approval of spot bitcoin ETF in the US, as demonstrated by BlackRock’s application in 2023, is expected to provide substantial institutional backing.

The introduction of the Hong Kong spot bitcoin ETF is particularly bullish. Unlike the US’s approach, which offers “cash creates” models, the Hong Kong ETF incorporates both “in-kind” and “cash creates” options. This dual approach broadens the range of investment choices, allowing for more flexibility and potentially attracting more institutional investors. This support is crucial for the supercycle, as it will lead to a surge in bitcoin investments from major financial players, further driving up its value.

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Additionally, new Financial Accounting Standards Board accounting rules for digital assets are set to significantly influence corporate finance. These rules simplify the accounting process for bitcoin and other digital assets, making them more attractive to corporate treasuries.

Failing Fiat Currencies

The current global economic environment, particularly in the United States, also plays a role. The downgrades in the US credit rating and questions about the stability of the US dollar could drive bitcoin as a safe haven, especially if hyperinflation becomes a concern. This trend is also supported by the ongoing de-dollarization and potential loss of confidence in fiat currencies globally.

Analyst Price Predictions

Several analysts have made bullish predictions for bitcoin’s price in the next bull market. Renowned bitcoin analyst PlanB predicts a potential all-time high of $524,000 for bitcoin in the next four years.

Analysts at Blockware Solutions suggests that the 2024 bitcoin halving could propel the price to a staggering $400,000.

Global investment fund VanEck has made predictions for 2024, suggesting that bitcoin could reach new all-time highs by Q4 2024.

This prediction is driven by factors such as the US election, the supply shock caused by the halving, and regulatory shifts that could make the crypto commodity as easy to own and account for as regular stock.

Bitcoin Supercycle: A Perfect Storm of Factors?

A blend of these elements is setting the stage for a potential global economic boom in the world of bitcoin. Despite the cryptocurrency market’s well-known fluctuations, current indicators and expert analyses paint an optimistic picture for bitcoin’s future, hinting at the potential for record-breaking valuations. Many factors are aligning for a supercharged bull run in 2024.

Hong Kong Spot Bitcoin ETF Signals Bullish Market Shift More Than US

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/31/hong-kong-spot-bitcoin-etf-signals-bullish-market-shift-more-than-us/

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Hong Kong’s financial regulator has set forth guidelines for the approval of spot bitcoin ETFs, embracing both “in-kind” and “cash creates” models. This move not only broadens the range of investment options in the cryptocurrency market but also positions Hong Kong’s spot bitcoin ETF as a more bullish initiative compared to its US equivalent.

In contrast, the U.S. has passed it’s final deadline for spot bitcoin ETF issuers to submit their final amendments.

U.S. Spot Bitcoin ETF Developments

The U.S. spot bitcoin ETF is witnessing significant developments. Bitwise, a prominent player in the cryptocurrency investment space, has made a move forward by disclosing a $200 million seed investment in its spot bitcoin ETF filing.

This revelation stands in sharp contrast to BlackRock’s $10 million initial investment in a similar fund, underscoring the growing investor interest and confidence in the U.S. bitcoin ETF market.

This development is particularly significant as it reflects a robust confidence in the potential of spot bitcoin ETFs in the U.S. market. The size of Bitwise’s seed investment could signal a strong belief in the viability and future growth of these financial instruments. Such substantial initial investments are likely to attract more attention and potentially accelerate the approval process for these ETFs in the U.S.

Understanding The ETF Models: In-Kind And Cash

The in-kind ETF model typically allows investors to exchange their existing bitcoin holdings for ETF shares. In this context, it means that investors can ‘redeem’ their ETF shares for bitcoin, making the process a two-way street – from bitcoin to ETF shares and vice versa.

This model appeals to current bitcoin holders looking to diversify portfolios without transitioning to fiat currency. In contrast, the cash ETF model involves buying and selling ETF shares using traditional fiat currencies, like the Hong Kong Dollar or U.S. Dollar. This model is more familiar to traditional investors and is more accessible for those not currently holding bitcoin.

Hong Kong’s decision to approve both ETF models is important. It opens up more investment avenues, likely drawing in more institutional and retail investors. This move is expected to enhance bitcoin market liquidity and stability, reflecting a broader acceptance and regulation of cryptocurrencies globally.

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission has green-lighted both “in-kind” and “cash creates” models for bitcoin exchange-traded funds. This decision marks a significant divergence from the U.S. approach, predominantly cash-based, and sets the stage for a potentially transformative era in bitcoin investment.

The Securities and Futures Commission has green-lighted both “in-kind” and “cash creates” models for bitcoin exchange-traded funds. This decision marks a significant divergence from the U.S. approach, predominantly cash-based, and sets the stage for a potentially transformative era in bitcoin investment.

Impact On Bitcoin’s Supply-Demand Dynamics

In-kind ETFs, particularly, could influence bitcoin’s availability on exchanges. With the ability to redeem ETF shares for actual bitcoin, there is likely be a decrease in bitcoin available on exchanges. This, coupled with the bitcoin halving event — where bitcoin creation rate halves approximately every four years — will significantly affect bitcoin’s supply and demand.

Bitcoin’s fixed supply, capped at 21 million, plays a crucial role in its market value. As the availability of new bitcoins decreases, especially with events like halving, the scarcity can drive up the price if demand remains constant or increases. This scarcity, intensified by options like in-kind ETFs reducing bitcoin availability on exchanges, highlights the importance of supply and demand in bitcoin’s pricing dynamics.

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The Global Context

Hong Kong’s stance could substantially influence global crypto trends. Considering the implications of these ETFs in the broader context of global financial regulations and cryptocurrency’s role in investment portfolios provides a comprehensive view.

Hong Kong’s decision to allow both in-kind and cash creates models for bitcoin ETFs represents a significant step as a large volume in the crypto market comes from Asia. This move not only diversifies investment options but also signals a growing acceptance and regulation of digital currencies across the globe.

As the world closely watches the US and Hong Kong’s next steps, the potential for a super cycle, propelled by a mix of halving events, institutional adoption, and global economic factors, looms large. Whether this will translate into a sustained bull run remains a topic of keen interest and speculation. However, what’s clear is that Hong Kong’s move marks a new chapter in the ever-evolving bitcoin narrative.

Bitcoin’s Rise As Financial Game Changer In Emerging Markets

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/24/bitcoins-rise-as-financial-game-changer-in-emerging-markets/

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In 2023, bitcoin has gained increasing prominence in emerging and developing economies, especially in areas where traditional financial systems are inadequate or inaccessible. This trend highlights bitcoin’s utility beyond its common perception as an investment tool; it is becoming a practical financial alternative in these regions.

In such economies, bitcoin is being adopted not for its investment potential but as a viable solution to financial challenges. It is increasingly seen as a workable alternative to unstable local currencies, offering a potential hedge against inflation and currency depreciation. This is particularly relevant in countries with high inflation rates, where bitcoin’s limited supply and decentralized nature provide an attractive alternative to fiat currencies.

Nigeria and Kenya illustrate this trend, with bitcoin adoption driven by limited access to traditional banking services. In Nigeria, people are turning to digital currencies as an alternative to mainstream financial solutions such as CBDCs, while in Kenya, bitcoin’s convenience and accessibility appeal to those underserved by conventional financial institutions.

El Salvador’s decision in 2021 to make bitcoin legal tender reflects a strategic governmental effort to weave bitcoin into the fabric of the national economy, aiming to enhance financial inclusion and stability. In Southeast Asia, Vietnam’s growing interest in bitcoin is not just about investment; it represents a shift towards financial inclusivity, particularly for its young and technologically adept population.

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Argentina’s recent political shift has created an environment conducive to bitcoin adoption. The new leadership’s commitment to the freedom of transaction with the decentralized nature of bitcoin, potentially making Argentina a key player.

However, bitcoin’s role in EMDEs is not without challenges. The lack of robust financial infrastructure and regulatory frameworks in these economies poses hurdles for widespread adoption. Addressing infrastructural barriers, such as limited internet access and the high cost of digital devices, is crucial for enabling broader participation in the bitcoin ecosystem.

Bitcoin
BTC
also plays a key role in enhancing trade and commerce within developing economies. By reducing transaction costs and enabling borderless transactions, it opens up new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs in these regions. This is particularly evident in the remittances sector, where bitcoin offers a cheaper and faster alternative to traditional remittance services.

Despite these opportunities, bitcoin in EMDEs remains complex. Navigating this environment requires a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring compliance with existing regulations. Governments in these regions face the challenge of creating regulatory frameworks that protect consumers and ensure market stability without stifling the growth potential of cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin’s rise in 2023 underscores its growing importance as both an economic tool and a subject of regulatory and infrastructural consideration in developing economies. Its dual role as a potential economic stabilizer and a source of market volatility highlights the need for careful management and informed policy decisions to maximize its benefits while mitigating its risks.

As bitcoin garners attention in emerging economies, concerns arise regarding its potential shift from ‘freedom money’ to a tool of institutional adoption. The apprehension is that bitcoin’s inherent qualities of decentralization and liberty might be diluted as it becomes more mainstream and subject to institutional influences, such as the development of a spot bitcoin ETF.

This concern overlooks the current reality in emerging markets, where bitcoin is already serving its primary purpose as a liberating financial tool. In countries gripped by inflation, currency instability, and limited access to traditional banking, bitcoin is not just an investment; it’s a necessity for financial autonomy and stability.

Its role in these economies is a testament to its resilience as a tool for freedom, even in the face of growing institutional interest. While institutionalization is an important aspect of bitcoin’s evolution, its fundamental utility as ‘freedom money’ in emerging economies underscores its enduring significance in offering financial empowerment and independence.

It’s evident that across the globe, in economies facing financial challenges, bitcoin stands as a stabilizing force. This trend extends beyond emerging and developing nations to include developed Western countries. Despite the perceived stability of traditional currencies in these developed regions, they are not immune to gradual devaluation.

The economic shift from West to East, marked by innovation and growth, is a clear indication that Western countries are not insulated from these challenging economic conditions; the impact will merely be felt more slowly.

In this scenario, bitcoin emerges as a reliable refuge, providing a safeguard against the inherent vulnerabilities of all currency systems, emphasizing its universal appeal as a hedge in deteriorating economic conditions.

New FASB Rule Supercharges Bitcoin Asset Integration In Corporate Finance

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/20/new-fasb-rule-supercharges-bitcoin-asset-integration-in-corporate-finance/

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The Financial Accounting Standards Board recently introduced a significant update to the accounting standards for certain crypto assets, like bitcoin. This update, known as the Accounting Standards Update 2023-08, responds to stakeholder feedback and aims to provide more relevant and transparent financial information.

Under the new standard, companies must measure these assets at fair value each reporting period, with changes in fair value recognized in net income. This marks a significant shift from the previous model, where crypto assets were accounted for at cost less impairment. The new model is intended to better reflect the underlying economics of these assets and an entity’s financial position.

One of the key benefits of this change is increased transparency. Investors and stakeholders will now have a more accurate picture of a company’s financial health when its bitcoin is measured at fair value. The update also introduces new disclosure requirements, allowing companies to better communicate their holdings performance to investors and stakeholders.

However, there are challenges that companies will need to navigate. Accurately determining the fair value of digital assets can be complex, as they often trade on various exchanges, each with its market dynamics. Additionally, the ASU has a relatively narrow scope, and determining whether certain types of tokens and assets fall within this scope may be challenging.

The amendments in the ASU apply to all assets that meet specific criteria, such as being an intangible asset as defined in the FASB Accounting Standards Codification, created or residing on a distributed ledger (blockchain or similar technology), and being fungible.

Companies can adopt these changes early, but they must be implemented for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2024, including interim periods within those fiscal years. If a company chooses early adoption, it must be applied at the beginning of the fiscal year, including that interim period.

This update could have significant implications for companies like MicroStrategy, which have faced challenges due to the previous accounting model for bitcoin. By recognizing increases in fair value, companies with appreciating bitcoin holdings may find this new standard more favorable.

The new FASB ASU 2023-08 accounting standard for bitcoin is a significant and positive change, addressing past difficulties companies like Tesla and MicroStrategy face in reporting their bitcoin holdings’ value. This update simplifies the inclusion of bitcoin on balance sheets, reflecting its true value more accurately.

Coupled with the anticipated approval of a spot bitcoin ETF before January 10 2024, this legislative progress is set to accelerate bitcoin’s adoption and integration into mainstream finance.

Bitwise Reveals Bitcoin ETF Advert Signaling Mainstream Transition

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/19/bitwise-reveals-bitcoin-etf-advert-signaling-mainstream-transition/

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Bitwise Asset Management recently unveiled its first commercial for a spot bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund. This comes at a time when the U.S. regulatory approval for a spot bitcoin ETF is widely anticipated, possibly as soon as January 2024.

The commercial features Jonathan Goldsmith, an actor renowned for his role as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” in the Dos Equis beer advertising campaigns. In the ad, he intriguingly states, “You know what’s interesting these days, bitcoin,” drawing a parallel between his iconic character and the ‘intriguing’ nature of bitcoin.

This ad represents a significant moment for Bitwise, which is among several firms awaiting approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to launch a spot bitcoin ETF. Unlike larger players in the market, such as BlackRock, Bitwise has a history of offering crypto ETF products. This is a point of emphasis in the advertisement, with the tagline at the end stating, “ETFs backed by crypto specialists.”

Bitwise’s venture into the spot bitcoin ETF market is significant given its existing product offerings. These include the Bitwise Bitcoin and Ether Equal Weight Strategy ETF and the Bitwise Bitcoin Strategy Optimum Roll ETF, both of which are futures-based products. By launching a spot bitcoin ETF, Bitwise aims to provide investors with a more direct exposure to the performance of bitcoin, as opposed to the futures-based approach.

This commercial launch reflects the growing interest and acceptance of bitcoin in mainstream finance. With its use of a well-known figure in advertising, Bitwise aims to capture the attention of a broader audience, conveying the message that bitcoin are not just niche interests but are becoming increasingly relevant in traditional finance.

To bitcoin.

Bitwise

The move by Bitwise also indicates the evolving nature of investments. As regulatory environments gradually adapt, the availability of products like spot bitcoin ETFs could further validate the status of bitcoin as a legitimate financial asset. This could potentially open the door for more institutional and retail investors to enter the market, offering a regulated and familiar investment vehicle.

The timing of this commercial is strategic, aligning with the growing anticipation and discussion around the potential approval of a spot bitcoin ETF in the United States. This anticipation has been building for several years, with investors and industry experts closely watching the SEC’s decisions regarding bitcoin-related investment products.

The Bitwise commercial is more than just an advertisement for a new financial product; it represents a pivotal moment in the integration of cryptocurrencies into the mainstream investment world. The use of a familiar face from popular culture underscores the increasing relevance and intrigue surrounding bitcoin, signaling a new era of cryptocurrency investments​​.

Bitcoin Fees Surge Reinforcing The Network’s Antifragility

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/18/bitcoin-fees-surge-reinforcing-the-networks-antifragility/

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The Bitcoin
BTC
network faced a significant challenge over the weekend of December 16, 2023, as transaction fees soared to unprecedented levels. On Saturday, the network experienced a peak transaction fee of $40, surpassing the previous high of $31 recorded in May. This surge sparked debate within the cryptocurrency community about bitcoin’s scalability and efficiency in handling transactions.

Causes Of The Fee Spike

The primary cause of this spike can be attributed to increased network activity. The bitcoin network saw a surge in transactions due to the popularity of BRC-20 tokens and bitcoin ordinal inscriptions, leading to increased congestion. The number of pending transactions piled up to 470,000, creating a backlog in the Mempool, the network’s temporary repository for all pending transactions awaiting validation​​​​​​​​.

Mempool Congestion

The congestion in the Bitcoin Mempool significantly impacted transaction processing times and fees. With a growing number of transactions competing for validation, miners prioritized those with higher fees. Consequently, users seeking quicker confirmations had to pay inflated fees, exacerbating the issue.

Scalability Challenges

The recent spike in bitcoin’s transaction fees underscores a fundamental scalability challenge within its technology. Despite its robustness, rooted in decentralization and security, bitcoin faces efficiency issues in handling large transaction volumes.

This necessitates the implementation of layer 2 solutions like the Lightning Network to enable faster and more affordable transactions, thus reducing congestion on the main blockchain.

High fees play a crucial role in maintaining bitcoin’s security by preventing network abuse, aligning with its goal of affordable node operation and decentralization. These dynamics prompt network innovation and adaptation, as seen historically during high fee periods. This continual evolution and response to challenges showcase bitcoin’s antifragility, reinforcing its status as a resilient and transformative global digital currency.

Antifragility

In light of these challenges, it’s essential to consider bitcoin’s antifragility, a concept eloquently discussed by Andreas Antonopoulos in his speech “Bubble Boy and the Bitcoin Sewer Rat.” Antonopoulos explains that Bitcoin is designed to become stronger and more resilient in the face of attacks and stress, unlike traditional systems that aim to prevent attacks. This weekend’s spike in transaction fees, while inconvenient, tested bitcoin’s antifragility, demonstrating its capacity to withstand and adapt to challenges. The resilience of bitcoin, even under such stress, highlights the effectiveness of its design, prioritizing decentralization and security​​.

Bitcoin’s Robustness

The weekend’s event serves as a catalyst for the bitcoin community to continue evolving and improving the network. The need for scalable solutions is more apparent than ever, pushing for further development and adoption of technologies that can address these challenges.

The recent surge in bitcoin transaction fees over the weekend of December 16, 2023, has brought to light the ongoing scalability issues within the Bitcoin network. While this poses short-term challenges, it also exemplifies the network’s antifragile nature. The incident propels the community towards innovation, driving the development of solutions that enhance the network’s capacity to handle large transaction volumes efficiently and sustainably.

The resilience and continuous adaptation of bitcoin affirms its role as a transformative force. If bitcoin can be broken by challenges like ordinal inscriptions, then it doesn’t truly deserve to exist, emphasizing the importance of its inherent antifragility.

BlackRock’s Revamped Spot Bitcoin ETF Model

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/13/blackrocks-revamped-spot-bitcoin-etf-model/

Photo by Michael M. Santiago

Getty Images

BlackRock has revised its spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund, altering how Wall Street banks engage with bitcoin. The model, presented to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission in November, is designed to enable major financial institutions like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs to participate more easily in the bitcoin market, despite regulatory restrictions preventing them from holding bitcoin directly.

The cornerstone of this revised ETF is the in-kind redemption “prepay” model. It allows banks to create new ETF shares using cash rather than bitcoin. This shift in methodology is pivotal in transferring risk from authorized participants to market makers, thereby bolstering the ETF’s stability.

A key aspect of BlackRock’s
BLK
proposal is its strong defense against market manipulation, addressing a long-standing SEC concern regarding bitcoin ETFs. This model is tailored to enhance investor protection, reduce transaction costs, and streamline operations.

If approved by the SEC, BlackRock’s ETF model will mark a significant shift for banks, enabling them to indirectly engage with the bitcoin market. This represents a major change in traditional financial institutions’ approach towards bitcoin and could open up new investment avenues.

In the broader context, BlackRock’s scenario is part of a larger picture where firms like Grayscale, Bitwise, and Fidelity are also awaiting SEC decisions on their bitcoin ETF applications. These discussions focus on various redemption models, aiming to balance risk management with investor protection.

As the deadline for the SEC’s decision draws near, the anticipation within the financial community is palpable. Approval of BlackRock’s ETF model could signal a major leap forward in integrating bitcoin into mainstream finance, reshaping the management of digital assets.

BlackRock and NASDAQ’s
NDAQ
collaborative effort in presenting this model to the SEC underscores the increasing collaboration between traditional financial players and technology platforms in developing cryptocurrency-related products.

The move by BlackRock, if successful, could pave the way for a wider acceptance and integration of bitcoin in the traditional financial sector. It could also spur other financial institutions to explore similar avenues, further legitimizing bitcoin as an investable asset class.

BlackRock’s revised spot bitcoin ETF model represents an important step in bridging the divide between traditional financial mechanisms and bitcoin. Its potential approval could herald a new era in institutional investment strategies, marking an important milestone in the evolution of digital asset investments.

Javier Milei Champions Freedom And Property Rights In Argentina’s Political Shift

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/12/javier-milei-champions-freedom-and-property-rights-in-argentinas-political-shift/

Argentina’s new President Javier Milei delivers a speech to the crowd at a balcony of the Casa … [+] Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 10, 2023. Javier Milei, a liberal politician and economist, assumed the Argentine presidency Sunday in a ceremony held at the National Congress in Buenos Aires, the country’s capital. The outgoing head of state, Alberto Fernandez, placed the presidential sash and handed the baton of command to Milei, whose term will last for four years, until Dec. 10, 2027. Photo by Alberto Raggio

Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

The Libertarian political movement, known for its advocacy of individual freedom and limited government, is gaining momentum in South America, symbolised by the election of Argentina’s new President, Javier Milei. This surge mirrors the bold and individualistic spirit championed by influential American libertarians like Kennedy, hinting at a potential shift in politics far beyond the borders of Argentina.

Javier Milei, a committed bitcoiner well-versed in Austrian economics, has risen to Argentina’s highest office, bringing a fresh perspective to its monetary policy. While he steers clear of making bitcoin legal tender, Milei embraces a libertarian approach, advocating for a monetary system deeply rooted in the principles of austrian economics, emphasizing the crucial role of individual freedom in financial transactions.

Milei’s victory over Sergio Massa in the presidential election marks a significant shift in Argentine politics. A congressman and political outsider, Milei’s libertarian views and bold proposals, such as shutting down the central bank and pursuing dollarization, have resonated with the younger electorate. His commitment to removing corruption and freeing the economy from the clutches of “freeloaders” reflects a desire to return to Argentina’s early 20th-century prosperity, when it was among the world’s richest nations.

Milei Inauguration, Argentina, 10 December 2024

Photo Credit: Juan Llauro

Argentina’s decline from its golden age was steeped in protectionist policies, rampant inflation, political instability, and chronic corruption. Established in 1946, the central bank empowered the government to issue money and increase spending, enabling significant economic activity. These elements have led to a significant devaluation of the Argentine peso and disproportionately impacted the poorer segments of society. While small enterprises struggle to survive in this challenging economic climate, the wealthiest, often with close ties to political power, have found ways to prosper.

This environment created a fertile ground for the growth of unions, politicians, and corrupt individuals benefiting from the Cantillon effect. A prime example is the current importation process, where excessive regulation fosters corruption, as illustrated in the chart below.

This disparity has worsened income inequality, leaving the most vulnerable communities to bear the brunt of the country’s economic woes, further hindering Argentina’s journey back to its former economic prominence.

Argentina’s economy has been severely impacted by its heavy reliance on foreign debt. The country has experienced several debt crises, most notably the 2001 default, which was the largest in history at the time. These crises have led to severe economic downturns, capital flight, and loss of investor confidence. A defining moment was a bailout by the International Monetary Fund. While this bailout provided critical financial support, it came with stringent conditions, particularly concerning digital assets.

IMF loans are typically accompanied by conditions that maintain dependency, ensuring that recipient countries continue to export commodities at low prices while being compelled to import technologies.They imposed prohibitions on institutions under the central bank from using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, effectively stifling the growth and integration of digital assets in the nation’s financial system. This move by the IMF reflects the complex interplay between international financial aid and national autonomy in economic policy-making, an aspect that Milei’s new monetary approach aims to navigate and redefine.

A vendor sells newspapers with the inauguration of Javier Milei on the covers in Buenos Aires on … [+] December 11, 2023. Argentina’s President Javier Milei took office Sunday with a stark warning to citizens to brace themselves for painful austerity measures as he seeks to cut spending and curb triple-digit inflation, all with empty coffers. Photo by Luis ROBAYO

AFP via Getty Images

Milei’s vision for Argentina is rooted in giving people the freedom to choose their medium of exchange – whether it be for storing value or for transactions. He proposes a system where individuals can freely use any currency, be it pesos, dollars, or bitcoin. This approach focuses on the liberty to transact in whichever currency suits one’s needs.

Currently, Argentina’s economy operates with dual mediums of exchange: the peso for regular transactions and the dollar for high-value items. Legal invoicing in dollars is common, with payments made in pesos at the prevailing exchange rate. Milei’s proposal would further liberalize this system, allowing people to transact in stablecoins or other currencies, circumventing the heavily regulated access to official dollars.

The cornerstone of Milei’s policy is to dismantle the centralized controls that perpetuate corruption. For instance, the complex import permit system in Argentina, which operates on a skewed exchange rate, breeds corruption and hinders fair trade. By removing these barriers, Milei aims to eradicate the corrupt practices that have long plagued the nation.

In addition to economic reforms, Milei’s strategy includes slashing government spending and introducing laws to stabilize the nation’s finances. He recognizes the significant potential in Argentina’s burgeoning bitcoin and cryptocurrency sector, which is already making strides despite regulatory uncertainty.

Argentina’s incoming president Javier Milei (L) receives the presidential baton from outgoing … [+] president Alberto Fernandez during his inauguration ceremony at the Congress in Buenos Aires on December 10, 2023. Libertarian economist Javier Milei was sworn in Sunday as Argentina’s president, after a resounding election victory fuelled by fury over the country’s economic crisis. (Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI

AFP via Getty Images

Milei’s presidency promises a radical overhaul of Argentina’s economic and monetary policies. By embracing the principles of bitcoin and advocating for financial freedom, he offers a fresh, albeit challenging, path towards economic recovery. His approach aims to empower individuals, foster entrepreneurship, and restore Argentina’s status as a global economic player.

With a population eager for change and a leadership willing to challenge the status quo, Argentina stands at a crossroads. The success of Milei’s policies could not only transform the nation but also serve as a model for other countries content with similar economic and political challenges. The journey will be complex, but the potential for a prosperous and liberated Argentina is immense, with ramifications that could resonate across the world.

AI And Bitcoin – A Synergy For The Future

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/08/ai-and-bitcoin--a-synergy-for-the-future/

Photo by Joan Cros/

NurPhoto via Getty Images

The intersection of Bitcoin
BTC
and Artificial Intelligence is leading in a new era of digital innovation, particularly highlighted by the integration of AI with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. This union is poised to revolutionize aspects of the internet, from micropayments to AI-driven online economic agents.

The Lightening Network

AI models, which are capable of recognizing patterns and making determinations from previously unseen datasets, are becoming increasingly sophisticated. This advancement in AI is significantly expensive, with the cost of training models like GPT-4 exceeding $100 million. The Lightning Network, with its capacity for micropayments and low fees, offers a sustainable solution for the foundational training of AI by facilitating the collaboration and cost-sharing among organizations. This approach democratizes AI development, making it accessible beyond major corporations​​.

Fine-tuning AI models, an essential step in AI development, can benefit from the Lightning Network. By enabling micro and instant payments, individuals worldwide can participate in fine-tuning AI, getting paid per task in bitcoin. This system leverages the global reach of the internet, with around 4.32 billion active mobile internet users potentially becoming part of the AI development process. This model aligns with the early days of bitcoin, where users earned the digital currency for tasks like solving captchas​​.

The Lightning Network stands out for its capacity to operate at speeds paralleling those of an interconnect, greatly exceeding even the fastest node-verified blockchains. This speed is crucial when AI systems communicate and transact with each other.

In scenarios where AI entities are transacting for services, the delay of even a few milliseconds is unworkable. Only the Lightning Network offers this high-speed transaction capability at a scalable level. This speed advantage positions the Lightning Network as an indispensable tool for AI-driven economic activities, where swift and efficient microtransactions are key.

Once AI models are developed, they are served through software installed in data centers. The Lightning Network could facilitate a more equitable pay-per-use model, where users pay only for the AI resources they utilize. This system could also allow individuals with high-end GPUs to earn income by offering their hardware for AI computations, creating a decentralized network of AI processing power​​.

The Convergence of Bitcoin Mining and AI Development

The synergy between Bitcoin’s Proof of Work and AI highlights a new dimension in this evolving digital ecosystem. Bitcoin mining and AI development share a common need for high-end computer chips and robust data processing capabilities. This overlap has led to a notable pivot in the bitcoin mining industry towards AI applications.

Larger bitcoin mining operations, unable to repurpose specialized ASIC chips used in bitcoin mining, are leveraging their existing infrastructure – cooling systems, security measures, and access to affordable energy – to venture into AI domains.

Companies like Applied Digital and Iris Energy have initiated significant expansions into AI cloud computing and high-performance computing data centers, respectively, indicating a move towards AI-driven operations. This shift is seen not as a departure from bitcoin mining but as a diversification strategy, reducing dependence on bitcoin’s market fluctuations and embracing the growing AI sector.

Hut 8, a firm in this transition, has invested in data centers equipped with Nvidia GPUs, capable of handling diverse workloads including AI and machine learning, alongside their bitcoin rigs. This convergence of mining and data center operations underscores the potential for a collaborative relationship between bitcoin PoW and AI, where the strengths of each can be harnessed to foster innovation and resilience in the digital economy.

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Industry Insights and Predictions

Bill Aronson, founder of Artificial Intelligence Research Group, offered this insight for this article. He said:

“Everyone is focused on human opinion regarding bitcoin adoption. It is hard to comprehend because bitcoin is so different from the money we have lived with all our lives. If bitcoin requires a minimum of a hundred hours of research to get a basic grasp, how will mass adoption happen in a culture with a 10-second attention span?

Ask a thousand people if they think bitcoin will transform society, and you can expect a thousand different answers. Ask those same people if they believe AI will transform society; the only question in their minds is how.

Don’t think like a human. Imagine you are an AI agent called Sami. Your job is to scour the Internet for potential candidates at Acme Investments. You need to trade with other agents who work for other companies looking for employees in similar roles. You will sell tidbits of information to them and vice versa. So you need money. You can’t open a bank account because you can’t do KYC.

Even if you could, you need to be able to do micro-transactions, and the fees would be too high. Banks are open less than 25% of the week, and you need 24x7x365. Banks are national, tied to one currency, and you need a global neutral currency. Banks monitor your transactions and can freeze or close your account.

Banks can print money, debasing its value. Why would you agree to that when there is a better alternative? When you see the world through Sami’s eyes, there is only one form of money you can use – Bitcoin on the Lightning network. Nothing else comes close.

This is why bitcoin adoption is inevitable. It doesn’t matter what humans think. AI agents will decide, and we will adopt bitcoin in their wake. If Sami doesn’t already exist today, she will within a year.”

Cathie Wood of ARK Invest has highlighted the immense potential of the convergence between Bitcoin and AI. She notes that both are entering a phase of explosive growth, as evidenced by the success of companies like Tesla
TSLA
, which has thrived on the convergence of autonomous vehicles, AI, and electric energy storage.

Wood predicts that this synergy will not only spur growth but also revolutionize company operations, leading to reduced costs and increased productivity. The decentralized nature of bitcoin and the robustness of blockchain technology provide a solid foundation for AI applications, improving aspects like security, transaction speed, and data analysis​​.

Implications for Bitcoin Valuation

The integration of bitcoin with AI, particularly through the Lightning Network, could have significant implications for bitcoin’s value. As AI continues to penetrate various sectors and bitcoin becomes increasingly integral to AI-driven economic activities, the demand for bitcoin is likely to increase.

This growing utility, combined with the network’s enhanced capabilities, could drive bitcoin’s valuation upward. The scalability and low-fee structure of the Lightning Network make bitcoin an attractive option for microtransactions and AI-related financial activities, potentially increasing its market relevance and value.

The integration of bitcoin with AI, facilitated by the Lightning Network, presents a transformative potential for the AI, the internet and the digital economy. It democratizes AI development, enhances efficiency in model fine-tuning, and opens new avenues for income generation through AI model serving.

This synergy, as underscored by industry experts, could significantly boost productivity and reduce operational costs, make bitcoin the native currency of the internet.

Bitcoin Reaches $41,733 Driven By Macroeconomic Shifts And Market Trends In 2023

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/04/bitcoin-reaches-41733-driven-by-macroeconomic-shifts-and-market-trends-in-2023/

Photo by Marco Bello

Getty Images

Bitcoin
BTC
has surged in value, reaching a peak of $41,733 in December 2023. Bitcoin is now up over 145% since the beginning of the year. The rise in bitcoin’s value can be attributed to a blend of macroeconomic factors, market-specific developments, and a changing global financial environment.

Macroeconomic And Market Influences

The Federal Open Market Committee meeting, scheduled for December 12-13, 2023, holds significant importance in the financial markets. Ahead of this meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expressed a cautious stance regarding interest rate adjustments, focusing on maintaining a restrictive policy until inflation consistently aligns with the 2% target. This approach introduces complexity into market expectations, contrasting with some analysts’ speculation about a potential rate cut.

The upcoming report on inflation rates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, due on December 12, is a key factor influencing the Fed’s decisions. A decrease in inflation could lead to a rate cut, influencing market movements and bitcoin’s valuation.

Market data such as the liquidation of $220 million in crypto perpetual futures positions over a weekend, including over $120 million in bitcoin shorts, reflects a bullish sentiment in the market.

As a result, bitcoin’s market capitalization has now exceeded that of Berkshire Hathaway
BRK.B
, ranking it as the 10th most valuable asset globally.

Historical Context And Recent Observations

Bitcoin’s recent peak is a contrast to its all-time high of approximately $69,000 in November 2021. The difference in valuation can partly be attributed to the cyclical nature of bitcoin, particularly the halving events. Bitcoin halving, a process that halves the reward for mining new blocks, occurs approximately every four years. This event has a substantial impact on bitcoin’s supply, and historically, it has been observed to precede price increases due to the reduced rate of new bitcoin entering circulation.

Despite the recent rally, institutional investors remain cautious, as indicated by outflows of $113 million from bitcoin investment products last week. The current market dynamics suggest that this bull run is primarily supported by individual investors, ranging from retail participants to large-scale holders. The anticipation of the next halving event, expected in 2024, could be playing a role in the current market sentiment.

Reflection On Bitcoin’s Price And Future Outlook

The resurgence in bitcoin’s value is a reflection of growing investor confidence in digital assets, especially in the context of macroeconomic conditions and financial sector developments. The anticipation of a spot bitcoin ETF and reactions to global monetary policy changes underscore bitcoin’s increasing relevance in the global financial system.

Jack Dorsey Backs Ocean In Shifting Toward Decentralized Bitcoin Mining

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/12/01/jack-dorsey-backs-ocean-in-shifting-toward-decentralized-bitcoin-mining/

Photo by Amal KS

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

A significant development has taken place in the world of bitcoin mining, with the introduction of a new mining pool called OCEAN
OCEAN
. This initiative, receiving substantial backing from Jack Dorsey and other strategic partners, aims to redefine the bitcoin mining process by prioritizing decentralization and miner autonomy. Understanding the fundamentals of bitcoin mining, the role of ASICs, and the dynamics of mining pools becomes crucial in this context, as well as assessing the specifics of OCEAN’s launch and its potential impact on bitcoin’s price.

The Fundamentals of Bitcoin

BTC
Mining

Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoin is created and transactions are verified and added to the blockchain. This process involves solving complex cryptographic puzzles, which requires immense computational power. Miners use specialized hardware known as Application-Specific Integrated Circuits also known as ASICs, designed exclusively to perform the SHA-256 hashing algorithm used in bitcoin mining. These ASICs are highly efficient, offering significant advantages over general-purpose hardware in terms of speed and energy consumption.

Role and Evolution of Mining Pools

A crucial aspect of bitcoin mining is the concept of mining pools. These are collaborative groups that combine the computational power of individual miners to increase the chances of successfully mining a block. Rewards are then distributed among pool participants in proportion to their contributed hashing power, after deducting a fee for pool maintenance. Mining pools have become increasingly popular as they offer a more predictable income stream compared to solo mining, where rewards can be sporadic and uncertain.

The Launch of OCEAN

OCEAN, a new bitcoin mining pool, brings a fresh approach to this ecosystem. It is a non-custodial, transparent, and non-KYC pool, offering several advantages over traditional pools. The non-custodial nature of OCEAN means that the pool never holds the bitcoin payout, significantly reducing the risk of custody and regulatory issues. OCEAN’s transparent and permissionless structure makes it an attractive option for miners globally.

Photo by Nikos Pekiaridis

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Funding and Support from Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey, a prominent figure in the tech industry and an ardent supporter of bitcoin, has played a pivotal role in funding OCEAN. Dorsey’s $6.2 million investment, alongside contributions from other strategic partners, underscores his commitment to fostering a decentralized and robust bitcoin mining environment. Dorsey’s belief in OCEAN’s mission to empower miners and reduce the risks associated with pool centralization has been a key driver in the project’s development.

OCEAN’s Vision and Features

OCEAN’s vision, as articulated by Mummolin, Inc. co-founder Luke Dashjr, is to transform the role of mining pools in promoting bitcoin’s decentralized ethos. The pool’s commitment to direct payouts from block rewards to miners, without custodial intervention, marks a significant departure from the norm in the mining world. This approach is expected to enhance the transparency and fairness of the mining process, thereby strengthening the Bitcoin network.

Impact on the Bitcoin Network

The introduction of OCEAN is seen as a crucial step in addressing concerns about the centralization of mining pools, a phenomenon that could potentially threaten the decentralized nature of bitcoin. By offering a more transparent and miner-centric model, OCEAN aims to make the Bitcoin network more resilient and democratic. The addition of features such as Lightning Network payouts for smaller miners further enhances the attractiveness of OCEAN, potentially leading to increased participation and diversity in the mining community.

Implications for Bitcoin Price

The launch of OCEAN and its innovative approach to bitcoin mining is likely to have a positive impact on bitcoin’s price. By bolstering the network’s decentralization and resilience, OCEAN enhances the overall stability and credibility of bitcoin. This, in turn, could attract more investors and users, potentially driving up demand and price. The increased transparency and fairness in mining rewards distribution could lead to greater confidence in the Bitcoin network, further supporting price appreciation.

The Future of Bitcoin Mining

The introduction of OCEAN, backed by industry figures like Jack Dorsey, represents a significant milestone in the bitcoin mining sector. By championing decentralization, transparency, and miner autonomy, OCEAN not only aligns with the core principles of bitcoin but also sets a new standard for mining pools. As the Bitcoin network continues to mature, initiatives like OCEAN will play a pivotal role in shaping its future.

Bitfarms Ltd. Announces Major Upgrade In Bitcoin Mining Operations

https://www.forbes.com/sites/digital-assets/2023/11/27/bitfarms-ltd-announces-major-upgrade-in-bitcoin-mining-operations/

Photo by LARS HAGBERG

AFP via Getty Images

With a significant fleet upgrade, Bitfarms Ltd. gears up for a future-ready, efficient Bitcoin
BTC
mining era.

In an industry where innovation and efficiency are the cornerstones of success, Bitfarms Ltd., a global leader in bitcoin mining, has announced a groundbreaking upgrade to its mining fleet. This strategic move, poised to enhance the company’s operational capacity and efficiency significantly, signals a transformative era in the bitcoin mining sector.

This is particularly relevant in light of the increasing global interest in bitcoin as an alternative to traditional financial systems, with growing concerns over government spending and exploding deficits. Recognized as the best performing asset of the decade, bitcoin, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offers a promising alternative for preserving wealth, which is crucial in times of economic uncertainty.

Canadian based Bitfarms, publicly traded under NASDAQ
NDAQ
and TSX, has placed an assertive bet on the future of bitcoin mining. The firm purchase order of 35,888 Bitmain T21 miners, with deliveries slated for the first half of 2024, is not just a routine expansion. It’s a bold stride into the future of bitcoin mining. Priced at $2,660 per unit, these miners represent the pinnacle of mining technology, offering unprecedented efficiency and power.

What makes this move particularly noteworthy is Bitfarms’ option to acquire an additional 28,000 Bitmain T21 miners. This potential expansion could elevate the company’s operational capacity to a staggering 17 EH/s and 391 MW during the second half of 2024. In an industry that is as competitive as it is volatile, such a significant increase in capacity and efficiency is not just an upgrade—it’s a game-changer.

Itaipu dam on the Parana river, Parana state is the second largest hydroelectric project in the … [+] World but it produces the most power. Photo by In Pictures Ltd.

Corbis via Getty Images

Geoff Morphy, CEO of Bitfarms, underscores the significance of this move. “We’ve built our world-class, geographically diversified, scalable infrastructure in anticipation of the right time for a transformative equipment upgrade,” he says. With equipment prices at their most attractive since 2020, Bitfarms’ comprehensive strategy presents a well-defined pathway to not only achieve 17 EH/s in H2 2024 but also secure the hardware for a potential 21 EH/s within the same timeframe.

This strategic planning reflects an understanding of the broader economic context, where bitcoin is increasingly seen as a viable option for portfolio diversification and wealth preservation, particularly with the imminent approval of a spot bitcoin ETF. This development is expected to further legitimize bitcoin as an investment asset and potentially attract a broader range of institutional and retail investors.

This announcement is particularly timely, considering the impending bitcoin halving, expected in April 2024. The halving, which reduces the reward for mining new blocks by half, is a significant event, typically resulting in increased market activity and valuation fluctuations. The halving underscores bitcoin’s built-in scarcity— a key feature enhancing its value, as the total supply is capped at 21 million coins, making it increasingly rare and potentially more valuable over time. By ramping up their operational efficiency and capacity, Bitfarms is not just preparing for this event; they are positioning themselves to capitalize on it.

Photo by Chesnot

Getty Images

The upgrade isn’t just about adding more miners. It’s about a strategic shift towards increased efficiencies and lower production costs. The T21 miners, boasting an ultra-efficient 3 Phase 415v PSU and a High Energy Mode, are a testament to this strategy. They can produce up to 233 TH/s, making them some of the most powerful air-cooled bitcoin miners in the market. This level of efficiency translates to significant savings and positions Bitfarms favorably in terms of both cost and environmental impact, resonating with the global shift towards sustainable mining practices, as demonstrated by Bitfarms’ focus on Paraguay’s hydroelectric power.

The focus on Paraguay, with its plans to increase production at the Paso Pe facility and the initial deployment of 80 MW capacity at Yguazu, emphasizes Bitfarms’ commitment to growth and sustainable energy use. Paraguay’s abundant hydroelectric power offers an environmentally friendly energy source, aligning with the growing demand for sustainable practices in bitcoin mining.

For the tech-savvy investors, Bitfarms’ move is not just a company update; it’s a glimpse into the future of bitcoin mining. As the industry braces for the next bitcoin halving, Bitfarms’ strategic upgrade sets a new standard, demonstrating what it takes to stay ahead in this competitive and dynamic field.

This move is a direct response to the growing role of bitcoin in global finance, offering a promising alternative for wealth preservation and reflecting the changing priorities of investors worldwide.

Bitfarms Ltd. is not alone in its strategic shift toward enhancing mining capabilities. Across the globe, several other leading mining companies are making similar moves, indicating a broader trend in the bitcoin mining industry.

Bitcoin mining is viewed at BitFarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec, Photo by Lars Hagberg

AFP via Getty Images

Companies like Marathon Digital Holdings and Riot Platforms, both based in the United States, have also announced significant expansions of their mining operations. These companies are investing in state-of-the-art mining equipment and seeking out locations with cheap, renewable energy sources to reduce costs and environmental impact. This surge in investment by major mining firms is reflective of a growing recognition of the long-term value proposition of bitcoin.

This wave of investment can be attributed to a combination of factors. The increasing institutional acceptance of bitcoin, as evidenced by the growing interest in bitcoin ETFs, has given miners confidence in the future. The upcoming bitcoin halving event is prompting miners to increase their operational efficiency and capacity in anticipation of the reduced block reward.

Geopolitical factors such as the decentralization of mining operations from regions like China to more politically stable and regulation-friendly countries also play a role. This decentralization not only mitigates risks but also aligns with a growing emphasis on regulatory compliance and sustainable mining practices.

As the industry prepares for the next phase of bitcoin’s growth, these mining companies are positioning themselves to be at the forefront, adapting to changing environments with a focus on efficiency, sustainability, and scalability. Their investments today are not just about gaining a competitive edge; they represent a commitment to the future of bitcoin.