Sunday, May 27, 2018

ElderShield Revamp - 10 Things You Need To Know

ElderShield, Singapore's national long term care insurance is set to be overhauled in 2020. Currently, Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents can opt in to the Eldershield scheme when they reach 40 years old and it is administered by 3 of the selected private insurers : Aviva, Great Eastern and NTUC Income.  

Come 2020, things will change and here are the 10 things that you need to know about Eldershield revamp:

1. New Name - It will be renamed as CareShield Life

2. New entry age : 30 years old (as opposed to current 40 years old)

3. It will be compulsory (as opposed to current opt out approach)

4. Claim payout is increased to at least $600 per month (as opposed to current $400 per month). The benefit will also go up 2% per year for the first 5 years of implementation. 

5. Claim period will be lifetime (as opposed to current 6 years). 

6. Existing Eldershield holder (or those who opt out after reaching their eligibility age) can opt-in from 2021.

7. Premium is expected to increase and the premium payment period will be from age 30 to 67 (up from current age 40 to 65), more details will be provided by MOH in the second half of the year. 

8. Premium subsidies will be provided for the first 5 years.  

9. The government will take back the administration of CareShield.

10. Private insurers are expected to continue to provide the enhanced layer of the CareShield in the future, some fine-tuning and alignment of their benefits/premiums are to be expected. 

What is your view of this upcoming Eldershield revamp?

Cheers! 

Friday, May 25, 2018

All My Capital On This Counter Is Officially Kaput (hint - not Hyflux)

Recently, Hyflux is in the news, for the wrong reason. It went from market darling (heyday of  $2.42 in May 2008) to trading suspension (at $0.21 in May 2018) in the span of 10 years. Of course, there is still a slim chance that Hyflux might make a come-back (never say never, just need to find one or two white knights). 

I knew a couple of my financial blogger friends got burnt (in variation of impact) but to me there is always chance that such situation can happen to any company that we are vested in. No matter how prudent is your analysis (fundamental or technical), there is always the luck/gambling element in investing (which is not within our control).

Not too long ago, when I was checking my stock list (via the POEMS app), I noticed the list is somehow shorter (the list is not long in the first place, hence it is rather obvious). After further checking, it is confirmed that one of the counter (EVEP - Eve Energy Partners, US stock) has went missing!

EVEP is my only US stock which has been in the decline (for close to 90%) for quite sometime and I've actually mentally written it off. Upon further checking, my capital (about S$5,500, after offsetting the dividend received) for this counter (EVEP) is officially GONE! KAPUT! The company has filed for Chapter 11 last month. 

So, what have I learnt from this episode? Avoid industry/company that you are not familiar with (especially those from oversea) 

So, what is your biggest materialized "rotten apple" thus far? 

Cheers! 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

How These 2 Apps Made My Recent Macau Trip Extra Sweet?

I am just back from my 5 days 4 nights Macau trip a couple of days ago, after settling down the work stuff, it's time to get back to the blog sphere again. For a start (or re-start), let's do something light and more leisure stuff - my recent Macau trip's experience. 

This was my third time visiting Macau and for the previous 2 trips, they were all day trip (from Hong Kong island). This time round, we spent the full 5 days in Macau and hence have more time to relax, and really explore the various tourist attractions. Of course, when come to Macau aka The Land Of Money, the first thing that come to most people's mind is the casinos. Practically every corner you go, you will chance upon one or two casinos waving at you. Even though you might not be an a casino person, it is still an eye-opening experience to just drop by and have a feel of how posh or grand a casino can be (it's free entry anyway and nowadays they are not strict in the dress-code, I do see people wearing short and slipper in there). Too bad, there is no photo taking within the casinos, or else, I might share some of the photos here, especially the one in Wynn. lol

A few tips on travelling to Macau:

1. The international airport in Macau is rather small and so far only FlyScoot has direct flights (from Singapore). 

2. Taxi fare there is comparable to the one in Singapore. It's more convenient/easier to get taxi from hotels. Also, most of the hotel do provide free shuttle services to Ferry terminal, other hotels or designated tourist attractions. 

3. If you planning for a Macau trip, you may consider the following alternative tourist attractions (besides the default must visit places like Ruins of St Paul's and Senado Square) :

a. The House Of Dancing Water - It's a 90 minutes+ show that awesomely combine acrobatics, dancing and daredevil stunts with plenty of water. The design and transformation of the stage (from water pool to dry land) is a marvelous experience (it's better than any Transformation movies). It's a MUST WATCH if you are into such show. 

Selfie before entering the show - The House Of Dancing Water

The stage of The House Of Dancing Water - The platform is actually water pool
b. Macau Tower - If you like height and want a bit of the thrill, you can consider Macau Tower for the Skywalk or even SkyJump (at 233 meters height). I managed to do the Skywalk only and have fun doing it with a bunch of un-known but jovial girls from China. 
Before the Skywalk

Skywalk and sitting on the edge

I believe I can fly...
c. Studio City Macau - It's an all under one roof entertainment hub of which their Golden Reel (the Ferris wheel turning in a shape of 8) and Batman Dark flight 4D show are worth the visit. 
Studio City

Golden Reel - The Ferris Wheel in the shape of 8

Golden Reel and me

Inside the Golden Reel

Batman Flight 4D Show

Batman Flight 4D Show

Oh, almost forgot to share the 2 apps that I am talking about in the title, phew! The apps that sweetened my Macau trip are Shopback and Klook.

For Shopback, I managed to get a cashback of $46.70 for booking my FlyScoot ticket and accommodation (Booking.com) through their app. The best part is that the booking journey is seamless as their app has integrated with the actual booking sites, so your booking experience will be as per normal. The total cost of my booking (flight + accommodation) is $837.78, so, effectively it's about 5.5% discount (after the cashback). 

If you have not download/use Shopback , you can download and register via this link and get $5 cashback bonus. 

As for Klook, its main purpose is to provide discounted tickets for tour, activities, shows etc. in many countries. So, why pay the full price when you can have a discounted one? The best part is that their e-tickets will be emailed to you as well as uploaded into your app. With the e-tickets, you can use it for direct entry without the need to queue at the box office to exchange for physical tickets (at least this is my experience in Macau). I've used Klook to purchase the tickets for The House Of Dancing Water and The Batman Flight Show and managed to save $74.40 (I paid $244 instead of $318.40, which is about 23% discount) for 2 persons.  

If you have not download/use Klook , you can download and use this referral code AQC8R to get yourself $4.30 as a sign-up rewards.  

Enjoy the travelling and savings along the way. 

Cheers!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Future is Trust Less (Guest Post)


There are a lot of things in this world that operate on a trust. 

Some central authority has to be trusted in order for those who place their trust to agree to it. These include a number of different avenues. From large internet companies to governments and central banks. 

The most important question is, can this trust be discarded? 

Can we operate in a system where trust is not needed in order for you to operate as a society? Can we operate in a system where something is either verifiable or it is not by immediately available public information? 

The answer is yes, we can. This is all through the power of blockchain technology.

The Buzzword of Our Time


It is indeed true that the latest buzzword of our time is blockchain technology. This is been bandied about at nearly every conference and is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This is mainly because people are inherently skeptical of centralized authorities. 

Do you trust large web companies with your data (looking at you Facebook). Do you trust the large banks and the Federal Reserve with the financial system when they were the sole contributors to the financial crisis? 

By placing all of this information on a public ledger that is instantly verifiable and impossible to manipulate, people will feel safer with the system. They know that the honesty of the system is guaranteed as it relies purely on math and nothing else. 

While the applications for blockchain technology are so broad, we will take a short expose into the power that it has brought to consumers through the realm of cryptocurrencies.

The Power of Digital Money


The way that the financial system works now is quite cumbersome. Sending money to someone in another country can take days and has to rely on a system of partner banks that will route the payment through their books. Irrespective of the time that is involved, the fees can be close to extortion. 

Moreover, if you keep your money in a bank, the money is not yours. If the bank may decide to freeze your account for whatever weird reason then you have no way of getting in. 

You are at the whim of this centralized system. 

However, through the power of cryptocurrency, you can easily send funds to someone else on the blockchain with the click of a button. There is no need for a bank to co-ordinate the transaction. It is merely broadcast to the blockchain and propagated. 

That transaction is cryptocraphically secure and you can see exactly who it is going to. The time that the transaction can take is almost instantaneous. The fees are near meniscal. 

You can send millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency options across the network in a matter of seconds without so much as a single murmur. Try wiring a mere 100k to a bank account and observe just how much scrutiny it will get.

The Central Actors Don’t Like it


One thing that is clear is that the power of decentralized money is not being welcomed by the likes of the Federal reserves or the large central banks. They do not like to have their sovereignty challenged by the people. 

That is why there is constantly talk about regulation. That is why banks are always shutting down the accounts of people who transact in cryptocurrencies. They do not like to have their monopoly threatened. 

So how do you join the fight against centralized authorities? 

You join the decentralized revolution. You start buying cryptocurrencies and using them in the place of banks. You fight the attempts of the banks to sanction individuals who use cryptocurrencies. 

Pretty soon the large financial institutions will know that decentralized technology is out of the bottle. The tide cannot be turned. The people are saying that the gig is up. Moreover, the other industries that rely on central control will also notice the threat and quake in their boots. 

If you wanted to buy cryptocurrencies, you could use a broker like IQ Option. They have an extensive range of cryptocurrencies for you to purchase. They also have easy options for purchase and withdrawals. 

There are also other options for purchasing physical coins and these include Coinbase and Bitstamp. Your choice of exchange or broker will largely depend on your residency and personal preferences. 

Good luck!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Evolution of Employee

Recently, the acronym FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) pop-up quite regularly in the Personal Finance Blog Community as well as group chats. Looks like everyone are catching "FIRE" everywhere.

Personally, I am not into this FIRE thingy in its strictest sense as I do still believe in contributing to the commercial/business world, be it as a capacity of employees or otherwise. This bring me to the topic of today's post, which is the evolution of employee. In fact, all I wanted to share can be found in the following picture, it nicely summed up the "Past" and "Future" of employee. 

So, regardless what you call yourself and whether you are already "FIRED" or not, do look into way to continue to contribute to the commercial/business world in whatever capacity you deemed fit. 
Also, for those of you said that you wanted to be "FIRED" so that you can do whatever personal or charitable stuff that you have been putting aside as you are working, my advice is : please do not WAIT, do it anyway NOW! Who said you must be "FIRED" before you can do such thing? 

Cheers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

3 Key Business Benefits of Blockchain (Guest Post)

The increasing popularity of blockchain and cryptocurrency is bringing a lot of opportunities to the business world. Not everyone can create a top five cryptocurrency project or exchange platform. However, there are still all sorts of other business benefits of blockchain and the industry surrounding it. Social media, smart contracts, and decentralized applications all present possibilities for entirely new business models. In this article, we’ll take a look at how these innovations will change the future economy and look at some companies that are already emerging in these areas.

Social Media Platforms

While many people in cryptocurrency might see ad bans on sites like Facebook, Google, and Twitter as a setback for the cryptocurrency market, this can also be viewed as a long-term market opportunity. As anyone who is familiar with ICOs and cryptocurrency projects knows, there are already all sorts of emerging social media platforms that have benefited from crypto’s rising popularity. Here are a few examples.
Telegram, which only launched on August 14, 2013, has already accumulated 200+ million monthly active users and has become a staple platform for successful crypto projects. While Telegram, of course, is not solely focused on cryptocurrency, many of its users utilize this app as a form of communication between themselves and crypto project teams.
Steemit is an example of a platform that revolves around cryptocurrency. By tokenizing content creators and curators, Steemit continues to attract more content creators and consumers to use its platform. More details about this project can be found in this detailed guide.
It is very likely that more social media companies will build entirely new platforms around blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Some of these new businesses could very well compete and even surpass the popularity of today’s top social media platforms.

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are quite possibly the most far-reaching business benefits of blockchain and crypto projects. They are game-changing both for the project teams that create them and the businesses that use them. Essentially, smart contracts eliminate the need for 3rd party intermediaries in the approval/disapproval process of important public documents.
For example, a traditional contract must go through the approval process of a legal expert and is typically sent back-and-forth between the two signing parties until a consensus is reached. However, smart contracts use code to quickly verify the legitimacy of contracts.There are tons of crypto projects that are working to use smart contracts as a way to create official documents in a wide range of industries (legal, healthcare, real estate, finance, global trade).
The teams that can best develop and market this technology can sell this as a B2B service. The value upside is enormous because companies can use smart contracts to save money on legal fees and eliminate the need for constant, back-and-forth contract negotiation. Projects like Propy for real estate or IBM/Maersk for global trade are good examples of how smart contract technology can be implemented to solve specific, real-world business problems.

Decentralized Applications (DApps)

The rise of mobile apps have changed the way that people around the world interact on a daily basis. However, there is one large problem with the current app market: centralization of power. Essentially, Apple and Google determine which apps are available for the world to use. Many apps are even be censored by national governments around the world. Decentralized applications, however, have no single authority controlling which users can or can’t access them. This decentralization is one of the huge business benefits of blockchain for the wider economy.
Weifund is one example of a dapp that utilizes smart contracts to create a robust crowdfunding campaign platform. This project is likened to a next-generation Kickstarter that gives both investors and companies more freedom. KYC-Chain is an example of a dapp which prevents fraud and completes identity verification checks through the use of distributed ledger technology.
Dapps have the potential to replace and improve many of today’s existing mobile apps. The companies that are successful in developing them can have a significant impact on the future of the P2P sharing economy.

Entrepreneurship in the Crypto Era

Yes, there are lots of projects working on similar ideas and not every venture can succeed, but the good thing about the business benefits of blockchain and impact of cryptocurrency is that it is an ever-evolving space without one clear-cut winner.
Since this technology is still being perfected, there are new market opportunities every day. These opportunities exist for everyone, from dapp development companies to industrial-level ASIC chip manufacturers. Moreover, businesses that take the time to understand how blockchain/cryptocurrency technologies can benefit potential customers could very well become some of the biggest tech giants of the near future.

This article by Delton Rhodes was originally published at CoinCentral.com

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Is Life In Singapore Really Complicated?

Inspired by a recent post from a friend of mine at Growing Your Tree Of Prosperity, he recounted his amusing experience with a telco staff at Starhub and the twist is that he managed to turn himself from a consumer to a "seller"! Kudos to him! Go have a read here to see how he did it!

What caught my eye is not the main point of his post but rather the mentioning of "Life is pretty complicated in this island (Singapore)". Of course, he is right in some sense as even a most simple matter/stuff (like what to eat for lunch?) can be made complicated by human mind. Hence, my view is that what is completed is nothing to do with the life in Singapore (or for that matter, in any other places), but rather the mind that sitting within the blob of our head. 

The other thing is that we tends to translate/evaluate every action/things from the monetary/rewards point of view (which is not wrong) and we thought we are smart since we "streamlined" the evaluation of everything into a very quantifiable element (i.e. $). Right? The complication came as different people see the value of money differently (The value of $1,000 for person A, say a blue color worker will sure to outweigh the value of the same $1,000 for person B, say the CEO of an MNC)  and some people might treat other elements like time, friendship/kinship, enjoyment etc much more valuable than the cold hard money itself.

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to such thing, it's all open for debate but one thing I am pretty sure is that : if you keep thing complicated, it's harder for you to be happy! Happiness need a lot of freedom and such mental baggage won't help!

Happy a great Sunday and cheers!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

5 Steps to Protect Yourself Against Bank Fraud (Guest Post)

Often considered the most widespread crime of the 21st century, financial fraud is sweeping its way across the world as high-tech fraudsters instigate a disturbing collection of scams to pillage unsuspecting people's bank accounts.

Just like yours.

Too many people have found themselves victims of bank fraud. So, to decrease the chances of it ever happening to you, here are five steps to protect yourself against bank fraud.

1. Always keep security details private

The rise of online banking has created new ways for hackers to commit bank fraud. In order to keep your accounts safe, when on the phone, sending emails, or entering details online, never disclose personal information unless you are confident you know who you are dealing with, and it is a reputable company or person.

When you are on an unencrypted website or are sending an unencrypted email, never include personal information such as credit card details, as it won’t be secure.

Instead, install an ad block browser extension for your Internet browser to assist in securing sites and make sure that the URL of the page begins with “https.”

2. Regularly update your passwords and PINs

Too many people have the same passwords for every bank account (as well as cell phones, alarms, and the like). And, not only do they have the same code, but they also never change the PIN on their debit card or the password for their online banking transactions.

Even if your bank account hasn't been jeopardized in the past, you should be updating your passwords at least twice a year.

Think long and hard so that you don't use obvious choices and don't include names or dates that are easily guessable such as your birthday. So to take your first step towards protecting yourself against bank fraud and update your information this week!

3. Oversee, monitor, question

While you can (and should) take all the precautions necessary, the best thing you can do is to routinely oversee all of your accounts carefully for any signs of unauthorized fees, and to be on the lookout for any unusual transactions.

You are not going to notice any scams or fraud schemes if you do not review your account statements with the precision necessary to identify fraud.

Additionally, never consent to administer financial transactions on behalf of strangers. If you receive an email or phone call referring to your bank accounts, do not presume the person on the other end is honest — people are not always who they say they are.

4. Request for your bank to do a credit check

As mentioned above, overseeing your financial statements is vital. However, if someone has stolen your information to perform identity fraud and has taken out a loan or applied for credit cards in your name, then it most likely won't show up in your financial statements.

For this reason, you need to request for your bank to do a credit check for you. Through this, you will be able to see what accounts have opened or closed based on your identifying information.

To stay safe, request one every year or when you suspect something foul afoot. Otherwise, you may find yourself unable to apply for your own personal loan in UAE.

5. Stay updated on popular scams and red flags

As technology develops and fraudsters become more sophisticated, the scams that occur also evolve. Therefore, you need to keep abreast with the current typical tactics and signs of scams in-the- making.

Websites such as Scambusters.org and Snopes.com track the newest scams and provide advice to help prevent them from happening to you.

Current tactics include:

● Fake tax/police scams: Receiving phone calls or text messages from people who insist you have broken the law or owe taxes. Often, they will tell you that you will be arrested if you don't pay a fine ASAP.

Always ignore these messages and speak to your financial advisor or bank if you have questions. If you continue to get harassed, report these calls or emails to the police.

● False antivirus: Many people have fallen prey to bogus antivirus messages that often pop-up in your web browser. By telling you that your computer is infected, these messages instruct you to purchase and install an antivirus product immediately. Almost always fake, don't follow their instructions as they are often ill-disposed.

By following these steps and remaining diligent with monitoring your online bank account in Dubai, you will massively decrease the chances of anything awful happening to your bank account and your hard-earned cash.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Would There Be A Twist In This Acquisition (Uber Kena Grabbed) ?

In the international front, the latest hottest business news is the potential trade war between US and China. The global market impact of this potential calamity could be a disaster and trigger the long awaited market meltdown. While it is still early stage but let's stay alert and get our war chest ready.

In the local front, we have the shocking news of "Grab has confirmed acquiring Uber's Southeast Asia's operations" and along the way they grabbed the Comfort into this messy deal too (Comfort and Uber just had a tie-up not long ago in late last year). What's more interesting is that Singapore's competition watchdog, Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) came out immediately after the announcement and claimed that they were not being informed about the deal and are "looking into" the validity of the deal now. 

What a deal, what a twist! So, drama... 

In any case, I could think of 3 possible outcome of the deal:

1. CCS deemed the deal is OK to proceed and hence sayonara Uber;

2. CCS deemed that the deal is NOT OK to proceed and hence we got back our Grab and Uber (separately) again;

3. CCS deemed that the deal is OK to proceed only if some of the terms are modified

Which outcome do you think most likely to happen?

Cheers!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Behind the Scenes of Cryptocurrency Exchanges: Secrets, Strategies, and More (Guest Post)

The following article is based on insights from the Blockchain Connect Conference in San Francisco. Included in this exchange panel are exchange CEO’s Chris Lee (OKEX), Jesse Powell (Kraken), Mike Kayamori (Quoine), Chief Strategy Officer Kailong Cai (Huobi), and Head of International Markets Ted Lin (Binance Exchange).

We’re gonna be a much more prosperous society because we don’t require such a huge drag on our society… because the blockchain is now that trusted third party.”- Tim Draper, American venture capital investor.

Cryptocurrency Trading Demographics

The US, Japan, and China are major cryptocurrency markets. The average trader is male in their 20s and 30s, with females and other extreme age groups entering the market.
OKEX: “30% of all Koreans are trading crypto.”
Huobi: 70% of customers come from China, a lot from Japan, but not much from US. About 50% are 30-50, while the average Chinese investor is 20-30.  “The male to female customers 4 months ago was 4:1. Now it’s 3.3:1. So female involvement is growing very fast”.
Kraken: Kraken exchange users are mostly male, with a recent influx in both really young (18 years old with little money) and those around 70 years old.  The average age in mid-30s more and tech-savvy with a bit of money to invest. “Lately we’ve seen both of the extremes, teens and people 70+.”
Binance: “We are 270th globally on Alexa, and 70th in the USA. The US is our biggest market, average age 25-35, mostly men.” The ones that are still not in crypto are the midlife crises ones, ages 50-60s, “but even grandmas are talking about crypto”.
Quoine: Early 20s coming en masse.“When I started it…. they were looking for the next excitement”.  Crypto is “bigger than FX” and other assets–Japanese investors are interested in leverage trading.

Importance of Cryptocurrency Exchange Security

Individuals need to make sure the exchange they are using makes security a priority, as exchanges are always a target. Moreover, users need to stop posting their cryptocurrency investments on social media.
Kraken: “Security is something we think about constantly… it was at the core of the exchange… it’s what inspired us to make an exchange” said Powell. “It’s a marathon, not a race… saw a lot of prominent members getting their cellphones ported away, people getting kidnapped”. Powell continues to warn traders on their personal safety, saying “if you talk about Bitcoin on social media, you should think twice about it”.
Binance: “When you grow too fast too quickly, you take shortcuts…There’s a tradeoff between customer convenience and security”. Lin makes it clear that some exchanges aren’t taking warning security measures in actual practice. Even with a regulated market in Japan, things still happen, which is why it is “up to each individual to make sure the service provider you are using puts security front and foremost”.

Impact of Whales In the Cryptocurrency Market

The exchange leaders tend to agree that there are whales, ranging from medium to heavy influence over the cryptocurrency market. However, there are no market makers with control total control over the market just yet. Investors need to beware of coins with low liquidity as they can be easily manipulated.
Kraken: “There are definitely whales that are market-making…. but I wouldn’t say anyone has massive influence over the price”.
Binance: “I would say whales exist, but not necessarily with evil intentions”. Some whales “out to play, some out to arbitrage”. Lin continues to say that some whales are “out to play, some out to arbitrage”, with less liquid markets like Ripple (which is 60% owned) having “whales that are market making, doing arbitrage”. Ultimately, Lin believes manipulation isn’t too widespread.
Huobi: Whales effect “70% of Bitcoin positions”.

How do Exchange Choose the Coins They List?

OKEX: The company looks at technology and how large the market is, and if there is “a ceiling” for this market. They also want to know if it is a utility token, and the risks, security, and the characteristics of the technology behind it. Lee says it takes a couple of weeks to a month to list a new coin.
Huobi: Huobi has a credit system called “smart chain” based on five criterion. This includes the strategy, management team, technology, its market size, and its potential. However, “one thing we don’t share is how we weight these items… we don’t want the bad guys to go public”.
Binance: People ask me “what are you gonna list next. It’s become a craze for people to jump on the next big thing”. Lin says there are only a few different ways to really understand if you picked the right project. “For us, we do a very proprietary methodology. Is the team good, do they have good track records, do they have a product…. And do they actually use blockchain technology for real?”. He continues to say they like modest teams that don’t seek extravagant amounts of money. “We pass less than 3% of all applicants in our reviews… 97% of those are rejected” states, Lin.

Trends

Bitcoin still is the preferred coin to trade, but altcoins are gaining traction. There’s also a slew of entrepreneurs attempting to appeal to the masses by launching ICOs.
Huobi: Before, we saw people trading a lot more. Now we see people holding it.
Quoine: Bitcoin is still the most popular coin. Its popularity is due in part because it’s the largest token in respects to volume as well as the Japanese government calling crypto legal tender.
Binance: Japan is more around Bitcoin, with the altcoin market being very small. This has to due with government regulations, as the government has to approve coins.

The Future of Cryptocurrency Trading

While the cryptocurrency market still looks like the wild west, market manipulation is expected to decrease. Countries should be looking to regulation to help control this manipulation.
Quoine: As the market matures, market manipulation will go down. Overtime, when there are more institutional investors and retail investors, the market will mature and exchanges will have to be transparent about who’s making markets, and who’s buying what.

Cryptocurrency Trading Psychology

People need to do better background research on coins instead of just investing based on its value or what the news says.
Kraken: Powell states “it’s scary when you hear some of these strategies”. He believes the news manipulates trading behaviors and thinks it is often dangerous to invest in coins just because they have a less than one cent value.
Binance: New users are often looking to coins with large fluctuations as they find them more exciting and potentially lucrative.

Final Thoughts

As the cryptocurrency world evolves in terms of user adoption and government regulation, cryptocurrency exchanges will be forced to adapt. Many exchanges are making large strategic bets on where they see the industry headed. Running a cryptocurrency exchange requires having nearly sage-level foresight mixed with the grit of being able to run a startup in an extremely fast paced and competitive environment.
Cryptocurrency exchange developments are going to be a very interesting topic to follow in 2018, so stay tuned for more!

This article by Erin Gorsline was originally published at CoinCentral.com

Friday, March 9, 2018

Huawei Nova 2i - My First Android Phone!

I am an ardent Apple fan! Since the launch of iPhone 4 (in 2010 if I am not wrong), I have been using it continuously until now. No, I am not an user of iPhone X, currently I am using iPhone 7 and usually I only change every 2 years when my contract end. 

So, what triggered me to get a new Android phone? 

There are a couple of reasons:

1. Recently, while reading through some blockchain and cryptocurrency related projects, noticed that most (if not all) of the projects launched their Android app much earlier than iOS (I believed one of the main reason is Apple take longer to review/accept the app). So, kind of FOMO (Fear of missing out) in that sense :-) 

2. Just happen that my company has arranged for a corporate  roadshow (by M1) and I took the opportunity to get myself my very first Android Phone in the form of Huawei's Nova 2i. With corporate discount, the handset is FREE, I just need to pay about $37+ per month (after the corporate discount) for 24 months. So, effectively this phone will cost me about $900+ in 2 years.

3. I have been wanting to try my hand on the non-Apple phone for a while just to see how difference is it from iPhone?

So, what is the verdict of my maiden experience? 

The UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are quite close to iOS and probably Android is providing even more features than iOS (in view of the minimalist concept of the latter). It took me less time than expected to get used to the new UI. 

I've been using it for only 3 days now and so far the OS (operating system) is very stable. Also, admittedly the camera/photo quality is better than iOS. 

The next question is : would I switch from iOS to Android phone (completely) now?

The answer is NO! I will continue to treat iPhone as my main phone while using the Huawei phone to access news/apps interchangeably. 

Cheers!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Top 10 Cryptocurrencies For the Past 5 Years And My Observation

By now, I believed most, if not all, of my readers have heard of cryptocurrency or minimally, the term Bitcoin? If you are the minority few that have not heard of it and why cryptocurrency could possibly the "new asset class"  that you could consider as part of your investment portfolio, head down to my friend, Christopher Ng's blog at Growing Your Tree Of Prosperity as he has started a new blog series on cryptocurrency.  

Cryptocurrency market is as volatile as it can get and double digits up and down within 24 hours is a common scene. So, if you are planning to plunge into it, do make sure that you are "invest" with your casino money (i.e. money that you are prepared to loss all without losing sleep), or if you are totally new to crypto, you might consider earning them (freely but slowly) as shared it in my earlier post.   

Recently, I chanced upon a neat picture on the Top 10 Cryptocurrencies for the past 5 years (see below) and thought it is worth sharing here. 

TOP 10 Cryptocurrencies By Market Cap (2014 to 2018):

My observations:
1. Bitcoin (BTC) is the mother of all Cryptocurrencies and personally think that it will continue to be the pivotal crypto for the next 5 years. The closest contender to dethrone Bitcoin is non other than Ethereum. 

2. 2017 is the catalyst year in crypto market as 9 out of the 10 cryptocurrencies achieved the billion dollars club in 2017 alone.

3. In the Jan 2018 list, half of the Top 10 cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, NEO, EOS, NEM) are the new entrance, it shows how vibrant the market is and the increasing trend of new coins/tokens being introduced in the recent years.    

4. If you notice, there is a dip in Bitcoin's market cap in Jan 2015, it mostly due to the Mt Gox saga.  

5. Only 4 Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin) continuously in Top 10 positions since their introduction.

Following is the Top 10 position as at 25th Feb 2018:


Further Observation:
a. Except for NEM (being replaced by IOTA), all the other 9 cryptocurrencies are staying put (with some shift of position).

b. Due to the huge sell-off in the beginning of 2018, there are a tremendous drop in the market cap for all the Top 10 cryptocurrencies.

c. Most of the cryptocurrencies moved in tandem, with some exceptional like DGD (DigixDAO) which is usually moving in the opposite direction.   

Are you vested in cryptocurrency? What is your view?

Cheers!

Exchanges that I am currently using:

 Coinbase

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Recap Of My Blockchain Experience (Steemit and Earn.com)

As per my earlier post (3 Sites/Apps That Will Earn You Trade-able Cryptocurrencies), if you are keen to get your hand with some cryptocurrencies but not prepared to invest/buy it from the exchange, you can participate in some of the blockchain projects and at the same time earn you some associated cryptocurrencies/tokens.

Today, I am going to share/recap my experience thus far with Steemit (decentralized social network) and Earn.com (blockchain related campaigns/tasks)

For more details of what each of them, check out my earlier post here

I've joined the Steemit community since Sep 2017. In the initial few weeks, I did participate in posting/commenting quite regularly (almost everyday) but subsequently, I only post/comment as and went I feel like it (still doing it now).

So far, my earning of STEEM and STEEM DOLLARS (cryptocurrencies of Steemit) is about USD 43.69:   
FYI, I've not cash out the amount to my exchange yet.

I've joined Earn.com since late Dec 2017 and effective only with the platform/app for 2 months. So, far, most of the campaigns/surveys received are related to ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and took more 1 or 2 minutes to complete each task. 

If you are interested to join this community, there is a need for you to create an account with Telegram (messaging service commonly used in ICO) and create a free ERC-20 compatible Ethereum Wallet like MyEtherWallet

So far, I've earned 0.0073 Bitcoins (about USD 71.36) :   


To test out their Cashout service, I've since cashout all the BTC to my linked Coinbase account (exchange) and it seems to work perfectly as I've received the following email immediately from Coinbase: 


Note: The BTC is slightly higher than the first image as I've since completed a couple more tasks before cashing out. Also, the transaction fee of 0.000076 BTC (about USD 0.80) is reasonable (initially I am expecting an higher fee). 

Do you have any experience in participating in the blockchain projects? What is your review? 

Cheers!

Exchanges that I am currently using:

 Coinbase


Saturday, February 17, 2018

What is Litecoin? - A Beginner's Guide (Guest Post)

What is Litecoin?

Litecoin (LTC) is a decentralized peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that was released on October 7th, 2011 and went live on October 13th, 2011.
The silver to Bitcoin’s gold.
Bitcoin’s little brother that doesn’t get out much.
These are just a few of the things you might hear being tossed around when talking about Litecoin. At a first glance, Litecoin doesn’t garner much respect as a top 10 market cap cryptocurrency.
However, once you get into the weeds, Litecoin presents an extremely useful and interesting application of the original Bitcoin blockchain.
For all the flak Litecoin gets, it’s easy to overlook what it actually is, and what functions it serves.

The Low-Down on Litecoin

Litecoin was founded by former Google employee Charlie Lee. It was one of the first forks of the Bitcoin core client. It was proposed as a solution to some of the bottlenecks and scalability issues with Bitcoin, most notably the number of transactions that could be processed within a given time.

232.91 USD (5.64%) 
0.02253590 BTC
RANK 


5
MARKET CAP 


$12.87 B
VOLUME (24H) 


$1.26 B
The edge Litecoin has over Bitcoin is that the payment transaction costs are extremely low, and it is capable of facilitating payments around 4x as fast.
Litecoin originally started gathering attention during its explosive growth in November 2013, where it saw a near 15x spike in price. This jump in price, however, was short-lived and Litecoin hovered around the $4 per LTC range for about two years. It wasn’t until May 2017 that it started to pick up steam again during a time where generally all cryptocurrencies experienced massive growth.

Litecoin market cap
Litecoin has also been relatively innovative, adopting new technologies such as Segregated Witness and carrying out the first Lightning Network transaction that sent 0.00000001 LTC from Zurich, Switzerland to San Francisco, USA in under a single second.

The Silver to Bitcoin’s Gold

There’s a reason Litecoin receives a lot of comparisons to Bitcoin. Except for a handful of minor distinctions, Litecoin serves the exact same purpose as Bitcoin. After all, it was one of the first Bitcoin forks.
bitcoin vs litecoin
Comparing Litecoin to Bitcoin not only makes sense from a convenience point of view, it also lets us zone in what makes it different at a technological level. Litecoin is meant to be used as peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and is actually able to accomplish the same job Bitcoin does at a faster and cheaper rate.  

Speed:

Transaction confirmation speed plays a huge role in how quickly a currency gets adopted. Bitcoin confirmations usually take around ten minutes and have been steadily increasing with periods hitting as high as 2,548 minutes. Litecoin’s network is able to confirm transactions at a much quicker rate.
Litecoin’s verification period lasts a fixed 2.5 minutes. For every individual Bitcoin block that gets confirmed, four Litecoin blocks of equal size get confirmed.

Cost:

The cost of sending any denomination of Litecoin costs around $0.09, whereas Bitcoin currently hovers around $5.00. This is an immediate advantage Litecoin has over Bitcoin for small transactions, since splitting a $10 Uber with a friend doesn’t make sense for most people if you have to pay $5.00 on top of that. Litecoin offers the option to pay for everyday goods without high fees that will start add up very quickly.

Mining:

One of Litecoin’s goals is to distribute hash power more evenly than Bitcoin’s network. The problem that Litecoin’s founder Charlie Lee wanted to address was how Bitcoin’s hash power was largely distributed among mining pools, groups of miners, and generally a much smaller (and less decentralized) subset of miners. Litecoin aims to keep the hashing power decentralized.
Litecoin’s mining also keeps transaction fees relatively low due to the inherently higher total supply. There can only be 21 million Bitcoins existence, whereas there can be up to 84 million Litecoins. This matters because it makes mining less competitive, and the more competitive mining gets, the higher the transaction fees.
Whereas Bitcoin is near hitting some pretty serious scalability issues due to its high transaction fees, Litecoin is able to churn out block after block and retain its lower transaction costs. Granted, not as many people are using Litecoin as they are Bitcoin and Litecoin could theoretically end up dealing with the same scalability issues if it were to experience proportionate growth and usage, but that simply just isn’t the case today.
Litecoin also uses the Scrypt hashing algorithm that utilizes much less processing power than the Bitcoin SHA256 hashing algorithm. Placing a higher emphasis on utilizing high-speed RAM, Litecoin makes it much less possible for a single player (or small collective group of big players) to dominate the mining world.
Fundamental Non-Technical Differences
It’s important to also look at the differences in how both Bitcoin and Litecoin came about.
Bitcoin’s founder’s origins are relatively shrouded in mystery. Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym of Bitcoin’s founder, is essentially relegated to legend and myth.
Litecoin’s founder, on the other hand, has been publicly available and active in the community. You can find Charlie Lee on Linkedin or on Twitter, as @SatoshiLite. After working at Google and founding Litecoin, he also worked on the engineering side at Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
Personally, I much rather prefer Lee’s accessible and open nature to the mysterious secretive Satoshi, and the fact that Lee is capable of making light (Lite) of the situation is very humanizing.
Additionally, you’d be hard pressed to find any serious claims or illusions of grandeur within the Litecoin camp. It’s meant to make cryptocurrency accessible and usable for everyone, and is perfectly fine with taking a back-seat role to Bitcoin.

So, Litecoin is…Better?

Well, the fact that Litecoin can hold its own weight when it comes to having a legitimate use case says a lot, especially in a cryptocurrency world with over 700+ alt-coins with dubious purposes.
It does, after all, hold a market cap of upwards of $3 billion. That doesn’t just happen by dumb luck.
When compared to Bitcoin, which has a market cap about 33x bigger, Litecoin does pose several advantages. As listed above, it’s capable of offering users lower transaction fees, faster transaction processing times, a more decentralized mining network, and its founder even throws out the occasional zinger on Twitter. These advantages technically make Litecoin a better coin for the vast majority of small transactions. 
litecoin twitter
However, to be fair, Litecoin hasn’t been pushed to its limits because there simply aren’t that many people using it. For the time being, Litecoin does exactly what it was created to do: offer low-cost, speedy transactions in a way that Bitcoin couldn’t.

Final Thoughts

As is, Litecoin is simply another cryptocurrency that just so happened to prove its use case as a low-cost decentralized peer-to-peer payment method.
Litecoin was never made to go head to head with Bitcoin, but its technological advantages do pose somewhat of a threat. While it might be theoretically “better” than Bitcoin, Bitcoin has already run off with the network effect of having rapidly onboarded a much larger and active user base.
Bitcoin also has the benefit of being a near household name by now, whereas Litecoin is much more obscure (especially with hot new tokens on the block like Ethereum). The vast majority of people who jump into the cryptocurrency world will buy Bitcoin first, and if their hunger isn’t satiated, maybesome Litecoin and Ethereum.
While Litecoin seems to function very well for what it’s meant for, it’s interesting to postulate ideas about situations where it could experience massive user adoption and growth. There isn’t much meat on the bones of whatever Litecoin loyalists are chewing on, but it’s worth noting that it could only be a matter of time before more people start to add Litecoin into their portfolios.
If, and this is a big IF, Bitcoin isn’t able to address its scalability issues, Litecoin will be there to at least offer the same utility without having to pay high (and if Bitcoin reaches the climax of its scalability problems – extremely high) fees.
Until then, Litecoin will likely hang around the top 10 market-cap cryptocurrencies, doing the same thing it always has.

This article is originally posted at Coincentral.com

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