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

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.


China appeals to Washington for quick end to trade war

Updated 18 min ago

China appeals to Washington for quick end to trade war

  • Beijing says it will buy more American goods but has yet to confirm the details
  • Tariff hikes by both sides on billions of dollars of imports have battered factories and farmers

BEIJING: China appealed to Washington for a quick end to their trade war but gave no indication Thursday what additional steps Beijing might want before carrying out what President Donald Trump says is a promise to buy up to $50 billion of American farm goods.
Trump agreed Friday to delay a tariff hike in exchange for Chinese purchases of US exports. Beijing says it will buy more American goods but has yet to confirm the details, leaving companies wondering whether Chinese leaders have other demands including a possible end to punitive US tariffs before that goes ahead.
Negotiators are “striving to reach a consensus on the text of the agreement as soon as possible,” said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng. “I can’t disclose the specific details.”
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday that officials were still ironing out details of a preliminary agreement.
Companies welcomed the deal as a small but promising possible step toward breaking a deadlock in the 15-month-old fight over China’s trade surplus and technology ambitions.
Tariff hikes by both sides on billions of dollars of imports have battered factories and farmers, weighing on global economic growth. Trump delayed a tariff due to take effect Tuesday on $250 billion of Chinese goods but another increase on $160 billion of imports still is scheduled for Dec. 15.
Economists warned the truce fails to address more basic complaints about Beijing’s plans for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other technologies.
Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say those violate Chinese market-opening commitments and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over know-how.
China wants “economic and trade relations back on the right track at an early date,” Gao said at a weekly news briefing.
Achieving results will “restore market confidence and also is highly significant for stabilizing the global economic situation,” he said.
On Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokesman said China would “further speed up procurement” of American farm exports but gave no scale or time frame.
China has bought 20 million tons of US soybeans and 700,000 tons of pork this year, according to the spokesman, Geng Shuang. China imported about 33 million tons of American soybeans annually before the tariff fight and collapsed to 16.6 million tons last year.