Bitcoin tops $17,000 mark as investors seek hedge against inflation

Bitcoin tops $17,000 mark as investors seek hedge against inflation
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Updated 18 November 2020

Bitcoin tops $17,000 mark as investors seek hedge against inflation

Bitcoin tops $17,000 mark as investors seek hedge against inflation
  • Bitcoin has soared over 130 percent this year, and is up more than four-fold from its March lows

LONDON: Bitcoin passed $17,000 on Tuesday to touch its highest level this year, with investors saying the gains are based on demand for the cryptocurrency’s perceived inflation-resistant qualities and expectations of wider mainstream acceptance.

The original and biggest cryptocurrency climbed 3.6 percent to $17,325, its highest level since January, 2018 — just after the peak of its 2017 bubble.

Bitcoin has soared over 130 percent this year, and is up more than four-fold from its March lows.

Its all-time high is $19,666, scaled in December, 2017 on the back of retail investor-fuelled buying frenzy.

Other major cryptocurrencies including ethereum and XRP, which often move in tandem with bitcoin, climbed between
2 and 4 percent.

Powering bitcoin’s 2020 rally has been strong appetite for riskier assets in the wake of government and central bank stimulus measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and a growing attraction to its purported inflation-proof qualities.

Investors such as family offices, which manage money on behalf of wealthy individuals, have sought out the cryptocurrency as a hedge against any future inflation that stems from central bank stimulus measures, analysts said.

Bitcoin’s supply is capped at 21 million. Proponents say its scarcity provides an innate value and shields it from central bank or government policies that stoke inflation.

“The virus crisis is propagating the reassessment of bitcoin,” said Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, an analyst at JPMorgan. “There is a reassessment about its value here as an alternative currency, as an alternative to gold.”


Saudi fintech startup secures $1.2m seed funding

Saudi fintech startup secures $1.2m seed funding
Updated 46 min 26 sec ago

Saudi fintech startup secures $1.2m seed funding

Saudi fintech startup secures $1.2m seed funding
  • The Kingdom has proved to be a fruitful market for investment in startups

RIYADH: A Saudi financial technology company has raised $1.2 million in seed funding.

Hakbah’s success comes six months after the Riyadh-based startup received regulatory approval from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) to operate in the Kingdom.

The specific investors behind the financing have not been revealed.

Founded in late 2018 by Naif AbuSaida, Hakbah specializes in alternative saving and savings groups.

On its LinkedIn profile, the firm describes its mission “is to digitize financial habits by developing innovative savings products that help increase financial inclusion, support a non-cash society, and bridge the gender gap in savings.”

Hakbah graduated from the DIFC Fintech Accelerator Program 2019 in Dubai.

The Kingdom has proved to be a fruitful market for investment in startups. Saudi Arabia recorded a 35 percent year-on-year increase in the number of investment deals in the technology startup sector last year, according to a new industry report.

A study by data research platform Magnitt found that the Kingdom accounted for 18 percent of the 496 investment deals throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region last year.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt were the largest markets, accounting for 68 percent of total deals. However, while the Kingdom saw the number of investment deals increase by more than one-third, the UAE and Egypt witnessed volume decreases of 17 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

When it came to the monetary value of the deals, Saudi Arabia recorded a surge of 55 percent year-on-year to $152 million.

Nabeel Koshak, CEO at Saudi Venture Capital Co., said: “Saudi Arabia is witnessing an increase in the quality and quantity in the deal flow of startups. I am thrilled by the distinguished entrepreneurs who are creating fast growth and scalable startups.

“Despite the slowdown of (the coronavirus disease) COVID-19, Saudi Arabia saw a record increase in venture capital funding (55 percent) in 2020 compared with 2019.”

In its predictions for this year, Magnitt forecast that Saudi Arabia would overtake Egypt by total number of investments and capital deployed and become second only to the UAE in the rankings.