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.


‘Huge increase’ in crude prices not expected: IEA executive director

Updated 19 July 2019
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‘Huge increase’ in crude prices not expected: IEA executive director

  • The International Energy Agency is revising its 2019 global oil demand growth forecast down to 1.1 million barrels per day
  • IEA’s Fatih Birol: Serious political tensions could impact market dynamics

NEW DELHI: The International Energy Agency (IEA) doesn’t expect oil prices to rise significantly because demand is slowing and there is a glut in global crude markets, its executive director said on Friday.
“Prices are determined by the markets ... If we see the market today, we see that the demand is slowing down considerably,” said IEA’s Fatih Birol, in public comments made during a two-day energy conference in New Delhi.
The IEA is revising its 2019 global oil demand growth forecast down to 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) and may cut it again if the global economy and especially China shows further weakness, Birol told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
Last year, the IEA predicted that 2019 oil demand would grow by 1.5 million bpd. But in June this year it cut the growth forecast to 1.2 million bpd.
“Substantial amount of oil is coming from the United States, about 1.8 million barrels per day, plus oil from Iraq, Brazil and Libya,” Birol said.
Under normal circumstances, he said, he doesn’t expect a “huge increase” in crude oil prices. But Birol warned serious political tensions could yet impact market dynamics.
Crude oil prices rose nearly 2 percent on Friday after a US Navy ship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for global crude flows.
Referring to India, Birol stressed the country could cut its imports, amid rising oil demand in the country, by increasing domestic local oil and gas production.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a target in 2015 to cut India’s dependence on oil imports to two-thirds of consumption by 2022, and half by 2030. But rising demand and low domestic production have pushed imports to 84 percent of total needs in the last five years, government data shows.
Meanwhile, the IEA doesn’t expect a global push toward environmentally friendly electric vehicles can dent crude demand significantly, Birol said, as the main driver of crude demand globally has been petrochemicals, not cars.
He said the impact of a serious electric vehicle adoption push by the Indian government would not be felt immediately.