Is there a link between Coronavirus and bitcoin?

Bitcoin went up, and it was because of the Coronavirus, people said. Then bitcoin went down, and that was also because of the virus. The question is this; has the virus had any effect on bitcoin at all?

The global panic around the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, could be called a ‘panicdemic’ rather than a pandemic. It has certainly caused the traditional stock markets to plunge, and there is no exchange that hasn’t been affected by it.

Some people suggested that money was going into bitcoin, because it is now more often seen as a ‘safe haven asset’. But that was more of an assertion made by enthusiasts.

What in fact happened was that bitcoin collapsed by 15% over the last week, and the rest of the cryptocurrency market sank alongside it. This happened at the same time as the traditional markets went into freefall, and that was definitely due to the spread of the virus.

Billy Bambrough offers a more compelling reason for the slump in bitcoin’s price. He writes, “On Wednesday, the SEC rejected an ETF application from New York-based asset management firm Wilshire Phoenix and options exchange NYSE Arca that wanted to mix bitcoin and short-term Treasuries.”

He believes that the SEC ruling against a “long-hoped for bitcoin ETF,” provoked a sudden sell off.

Why did the SEC not give permission for a bitcoin ETF? In a statement it said: “The Commission concludes that NYSE Arca has not established that the relevant bitcoin market possesses a resistance to manipulation that is unique beyond that of traditional security or commodity markets such that it is inherently resistant to manipulation.”

Still, the SEC ruling shouldn’t have come as a major surprise, because it has a history of rejecting applications, and as James Seyffart, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst said, “I didn’t see any viable reason why this would be accepted when others were denied.” And as Bambrough suggests, there were comments in the ruling that would lead most of us to believe that the SEC is nowhere near ready to give any ETF application the green light.

Hester Pierce, AN SEC member who is very supportive of cryptocurrencies, made an interesting comment about the recent ruling. She said that it led her, “to conclude that this Commission is unwilling to approve the listing of any product that would provide access to the market for bitcoin and that no filing will meet the ever-shifting standards that this Commission insists on applying to bitcoin-related products — and only to bitcoin-related products.”

We must also remember that bitcoin’s value isn’t derived from the same indicators as fiat, such as interest rates and GDP; it is driven by demand, as Dave Waslen, CEO of HedgeTrade told Forbes. Instead, “Bitcoin is purely driven by demand which is why it often remains steady when other markets are teetering.”

To sum up: Coronavirus has had an effect on all markets, but it would appear that it is not solely responsible for the recent rise or drop in price. However, it is entirely possible that as the virus impacts more countries, and the markets wobble even more, that assets like gold on the one hand, and bitcoin on the other, may benefit. We can only watch and wait.

Who’s in the Forbes Blockchain Top 50?

The Forbes annual Blockchain 50 is on its second outing. It lists the companies making the biggest strides in blockchain, and most of them are valued in the billions of dollars. Indeed, to appear on the list, Forbes says, “To qualify, Blockchain 50 members must be generating no less than $1 billion in revenue annually or be valued at $1 billion or more.

There are some surprising names that turn up in the Blockchain 50, if only because on the face of it they have little to do with blockchain.

For example, De Beers is on the list. The diamond giant’s new software, Tracr, follows diamonds through the supply chain as they are mined, cut, polished and sold and tens of thousands of stones are being registered per month.

Foxconn makes the iPhone trade-finance venture, Chained Finance, pays more than 20 electronics suppliers using digital coins minted on the Ethereum blockchain. As a result the costs have dropped from annual percentage rates as high as 24% to a mere 10%.

Dole Foods is another blockchain adopter. It is using it across all vegetable processing, for millions of pounds of lettuce, spinach and coleslaw. Customers at Walmart can now check where their fruit comes from by scanning a code used by farmers. It is soon expanding this use of blockchain to its fruit.

LVMH, the luxury goods brand, is using blockchain technology for traceability and proof of authenticity. Among its brands, Louis Vuitton is already tracking millions of its products in an effort to reduce counterfeiting.

The United Nations, a 75-year-old organisation is using a number of blockchain initiatives, including one that is intended to combat warlords who steal aid using pilfered ID cards, the UN has over the past two years disbursed funds to 106,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, using blockchain-verified iris scans instead of ID cards.

As Forbes says in its introduction to the Top 50, “Blockchain started as a way to move bitcoin from point A to point B, but it is now being used by a host of big companies to monitor and move any number of assets around the world as easily as sending an email.”

From the instantaneous settlement of German government bonds to verifying the provenance of diamonds mined in Africa and bringing liquidity to a small supplier of sliding shower doors in Zhongshan, China, this year’s members have largely moved beyond the theoretical benefits of blockchain, to generating very real revenues and cost savings.

How do you pay crypto taxes?

I would be prepared to wager that many people who bought cryptocurrencies, never thought about any tax considerations. It is unsurprising that the tax authorities are ahead of the crypto owners, because they see plenty of new income for their coffers. The IRS in particular has started on a crackdown, because when it sees that only a few hndred people report their crypto trades, but Coinbase has 35 million accounts, they know something is going on.

It used to be that you might have got away with saying that the law isn’t clear, but there is no denying it now that the IRS has decreed that cryptocurrency is property. Not an asset or a security — it’s a property. Therefore, as capital assets, they give rise to capital gains and losses when disposed of.

As William Baldwin writes at Forbes: “A profit is taxable as a short-term gain if a position has been held for a year or less, as long-term if held for more than a year. If a coin is held for profit rather than amusement, which is presumably almost always the cases, then a loss on it is a deductible capital loss.” Also, you need to note this: you can go out at a loss and then right back in without losing the right to immediately claim the loss.

Don’t trust your exchange

For some reason, many people are convinced that the exchange they use won’t reveal their name to the tax authorities. Wrong! Especially if you are a prolific trader. For example, in the US, the 1099-K is mandatory for a customer who in one calendar year does at least 200 transactions with proceeds totalling at least $20,000.

Watch out for the forks

The IRS also has a view about what happens when there’s a fork in a blockchain. It believes that a fork gives crypto owners a windfall that should be taxed at high ordinary-income rates.

Also, if you have benefitted from an airdrop, that’s income, and obviously, so is mining. if you join a mining pool, spend $8,000 on electricity and get rewarded with a bitcoin worth $9,800, then Eeen if you don’t sell the coin, you have to report a $1,800 profit, and that profit is ordinary income.

Gifts and donations?

On the other hand, if you donate crypto to a charity, or gift it to your kids, then it is treated like ‘gifts of stock’. Baldwin gives this example: “Say you bought a bitcoin at $12,000 and give it to your niece when it’s worth $11,000. If she sells at more than $12,000, then she uses $12,000 as her basis. If she sells at less than $11,000, she has to use $11,000 as her basis, reducing the capital loss that she can claim. Any sale between $11,000 and $12,000 is in a dead zone that creates neither a gain nor a loss.”

If you’re confused about tax rules around your crypto holdings, I would suggest you find a tax adviser who knows crypto — there must be several trying to occupy this niche now. If they don’t know crypto — you could find yourself in some trouble later on. It really is worth getting expert advice about your crypto holdings.

6 Tech Predictions for 2020

The tech world is constantly changing, and as we enter 2020 and a new decade, we will see even greater differences than we have seen over the previous ten years. Tech experts, who have their finger on the pulse, and are astute when it comes to making predictions about the coming decade in technology, have been discussing the key changes at various conference events worldwide, and I’ve selected six that I think are the most interesting, and significant for those working in tech.

We want more privacy

Privacy has been a major issue over the last two years, highlighted by the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. Consumers are going to pay more attention to how their data is collected, and how it is stored. As a consequence, more businesses will be looking for cloud-based solutions with privacy features that fully comply with the law and fair consumer practices.

Biometrics will produces more wearables

People are already wearing FitBits, but in the next few years we will probably see more interactive data tracking using heart rate and brainwaves for example, and using them to power personal experiences. One suggestion is that when you lower your heart rate, you’ll see a scene on your screen change colour and sharpness. Positive thoughts may do the same. In other words, we will be using more augmented or virtual reality. Sarah Hill, CEO at HEALium, sees it as a new form of meditation. She says, “These new kinds of meditation are harnessing the power of your body’s own electricity via your wearables to allow the user to feel content in ways that have never been done before.”

Recession-proofed credit

Few people will ever forget the last recession, so as rumours of another one filter through, more people are trying to prevent slipping into a bad credit rating situation by using credit-building fintech tools to bolster their credit scores in advance.”

More AI in publishing

Monetising content has always been an issue for online publishers, and this decade should present them with new solutions, such using machine learning and AI to predict readers’ specific interests and how likely they are to subscribe.

The advance of 5G

Many are agreed that this is going to be a 5G decade. It will probably evolve rapidly and we will see more enterprise applications, plus investment in 5G technology will rise significantly.

The assistant in your car

Niko Vuori, CEO of Drivetime, says, “It is estimated that there will be eight billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023. As voice assistants continue to dominate the home, the in-vehicle usage has remained relatively limited to navigation, despite being one of the only environments that truly requires a hands-free experience.” Expect to have much more voice-assistant technology in your car.

There are many more tech changes to come. What prediction have you seen that appeals to you the most?