Bitcoin is the ‘people’s declaration of independence,’ Dubai summit is told

A person holding a visual representation of the digital crypto-currency Bitcoin (Jack Guez /AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Bitcoin is the ‘people’s declaration of independence,’ Dubai summit is told

DUBAI: Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has recently been the subject of wild market gyrations, is “the people’s declaration of monetary independence,” the World Government Summit heard in Dubai.

Nick Spanos, founder of the Bitcoin Center in New York, was speaking at a packed session entitled “Is the future of cryptocurrencies gold or dust?”. He defended the record of the currency and said its current decline would never render it worthless.

“It will not crash to zero because it’s scarce. It is not a bubble. It’s the pin that’s going to pop the legacy currency bubble that’s been holding the people back,” he added.

The cryptocurrency has recovered some lost ground recently, trading around $8,500 yesterday compared with a price of below $6,500 earlier this month, but still way off the highs seen last year, just short of $20,000.

Bitcoin has been slammed as a “fraud” and a “Ponzi scheme” by some orthodox investors.

That volatility has prompted calls for regulation of the cryptocurrency industry, which is currently traded off central exchanges and is regulated only lightly in many countries. Spanos said: “If you try to regulate it, you will only regulate your country out of it.”

Other members of the panel took a more measured approach. Lawrence Wintermeyer, principal of the Elipses firm and “social capitalist,” said there was a need to get banks and exchanges involved in “know your customer” (KYC) and anti-money laundering procedures regarding bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Kian Lon Wong, president of the NEM Foundation, which promotes the use of blockchain technology in business, said: “It is in the trading of cryptocurrency that the problem is, for example in money-laundering. But it is still a lot less than in the conventional currencies.The regulators are on a learning curve, especially over how to regulate trade in exchanges.

“The minimal requirement should be security. We need the exchanges and the regulators to come together on this,” he added.

Jesse Powell, chief executive of the Kraken Bitcoin Exchange, said that it was difficult for regulators to control it because it was a globally traded product. “It trades not just in your jurisdiction but anywhere in the world.

“The regulators should take care not to make it too difficult because the next stage after a central exchange is a decentralized exchange, and they’re much more difficult to control.” he added.

He also warned that Bitcoin consumers “should look out for themselves. I still say buyer beware.”

Wong denied that there was an element of price manipulation in last year’s big rises. “We’re in a growing place and these things are unavoidable. I have no concern about manipulation. Blockchain is a proven technology and it’s here to stay,” he said.

Spanos explained last year’s dramatic rises in Bitcoin as down to “peer interest and trust.” He said cryptocurrencies would have a $1 trillion market capitalization this year, compared with the top level of $600 billion in 2017.


Oil slips 1% as US stockpiles surge, economic concerns grow

Updated 23 May 2019
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Oil slips 1% as US stockpiles surge, economic concerns grow

  • Crude futures already fell by around 2 percent the previous day
  • US crude oil production climbed by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 12.2 million bpd

SINGAPORE: Oil prices dropped by around 1 percent on Thursday, extending falls from the previous session amid surging US crude inventories and weak demand from refineries.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $70.36 per barrel at 0652 GMT, down 63 cents, or 0.9 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down by 51 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $60.91 per barrel.
Crude futures already fell by around 2 percent the previous day.
“Rising inventories and a slowdown with refined product demand could suggest we could see further pressure (on prices),” said Edward Moya, senior analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.
US crude oil inventories rose last week, hitting their highest levels since July 2017, due to weak refinery demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Commercial US crude inventories rose by 4.7 million barrels in the week ended May 17, to 476.8 million barrels, their highest since July 2017, the EIA data showed.
Beyond weak refinery demand for feedstock crude oil, the increase in commercial inventories also came on the back of planned sales of US strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) into the commercial market.
US crude oil production climbed by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 12.2 million bpd, putting output near its record of 12.3 million bpd reached late last month.
Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, said “concerns about slowing (oil) demand growth due to the negative impact on the global economy of the US–China trade war” were also weighing on oil prices.
Countering these bearish price factors have been escalating political tensions between the United States and Iran, as well as ongoing supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that started in January in an effort to prop up the market.
“Large but opposing forces have kept Brent in a $70-$75 per barrel range in recent weeks,” Morgan Stanley said in a note on oil markets published this week.
“Macroeconomic data has rapidly deteriorated, and this is reflected in weaker oil demand. At the same time, downside risk to supply is materializing in key countries (adding to OPEC’s production cuts),” the US bank said.
“On balance, however, we still see tightness in 2H19,” Morgan Stanley said, adding it expected Brent to trade in the $75-$80 per barrel range in the second half of 2019.
French bank BNP Paribas said high inventories meant that OPEC would likely keep its voluntary supply cuts in place.
“Supply management is here to stay,” the bank said.