Bitcoin at all-time high near $8,000

Updated 17 November 2017
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Bitcoin at all-time high near $8,000

LONDON: Bitcoin hit an all-time high just below $8,000 on Friday, on talk that a software upgrade whose suspension sent the cryptocurrency into a tailspin at the end of last week was, after all, going ahead within hours.
Talk that the upgrade — which could split or “fork” bitcoin into two versions — would go ahead was
driven by a statement on the web-site of Coinbase, the world’s largest bitcoin company with operations in 32 countries.
“The Bitcoin Segwit2x fork is expected to occur in the next six hours,” it said in a statement published at 10:04 a.m. GMT.
If a bitcoin clone were created, any holders would also in theory instantly become owners of the new spin-off.
Bitcoin, generally highly volatile, has been on a particularly wild ride, sliding at the end of last week to as low as $5,555 after plans for Segwit2x were suspended, before bouncing more than 40 percent since Sunday.
It reached as high as $7,997 in early Asian trading on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, before easing back a touch to trade broadly flat by 11:15 a.m. GMT at $7,863.
Market-watchers said speculation about the fork was driving bitcoin higher. If it went ahead as expected, holders of the cryptocurrency would be able to sell the spin-off at a profit if the market were to assign it any value.
But in a post on the Medium blogging platform, the company’s communications director David Farmer said Coinbase did not expect the fork to successfully split bitcoin in two, as it lacked the necessary support from the network to do so.
“Whenever people hear ‘fork’ nowadays the price jumps, as people hope to get the free dividend,” said Charles Hayter, founder of cryptocurrency data analysis site Cryptocompare.
“There is also a resulting spike in demand for people entering bitcoin” from other cryptocurrencies.
Farmer said the company was actively monitoring the situation and that all funds stored in Coinbase wallets remained safe. All bitcoin buying and selling would be suspended on Coinbase in the hour prior to the fork, which is expected between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. GMT.
Bitcoin is on track for its best week since July. For the year, it is up more than 700 percent.
— REUTERS


‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

Updated 32 min 45 sec ago
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‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron told executives from the world’s biggest technology firms on Wednesday that he wanted innovation to be a driving force for the French economy, but also that they needed to contribute more to society.
The French leader paints himself as a champion of France’s plugged-in youth and wants to transform France into a “startup nation” that draws higher investments into technology and artificial intelligence. He is also spearheading efforts in Europe to have digital companies pay more tax at source.
Macron’s guest-list included Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, IBM’s Virginia Rometty, Intel Corp’s Brian Krzanich, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and a raft of other big hitters in the corporate world.
“There is no free lunch,” he quipped in English to the executives lined up on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo call at a lunch meeting. “So I want from you some commitments.”
As Macron spoke, IBM announced it would hire about 1,400 people in France over the next two years in the fields of blockchain and cloud computing.
Ride-hailing app Uber also said it planned to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
Macron will hold one-on-one talks with Mark Zuckerberg on tax and data privacy on the sidelines of the Tech For Good summit — a day after the Facebook chief executive faced questions from European Union lawmakers.
Those talks will be frank, an Elysee official said ahead of the meeting. While Macron will be pitching France Inc, he will also push his case for a European Union tax on digital turnover and a tougher fight against both data piracy and fake news.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday sailed through a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies, apologizing to leaders of the European Parliament for a massive data leak but dodging numerous questions.
Macron told the executives that business needed to do more in tackling issues such as inequality and climate change.
“It is not possible just to have free riding on one side, when you make a good business,” the French president said.