Uber’s First Political Advisor Looks to Mobile Voting on Blockchain


Bradley Tusk envisions a future where politicians lead for the majority of people, rather than just those who make it to polling places. Tusk, who advised several high-growth startups such as Uber, Lemonade, and Eaze on politics and regulation is a major proponent of mobile voting for local and national elections, and he thinks blockchain can help make it a reality.

In the past decade, there have been several initiatives to encourage people to vote, most of which ended up being only marginally effective. Many attribute low voter turnout, particularly that of local elections, to apathy. However, enabling Americans to cast their votes with a smartphone may change that.

Blockchain-powered mobile voting may be on the horizon. If we ever reach it, we may end up living in a world that caters to everyone capable of voting, not just those who actually go to their local stinky library to bubble in their ballot on dead trees.  

Many organizations exploring mobile voting have turned to blockchain. Blockchain offers the tangible tracking and identification verification many mobile voting skeptics are rightfully wary about, but most projects focusing on digital voting with the use of blockchain technology are poorly funded and at a lack of active supporters.

Bradley Tusk

A young(er) Bradley Tusk. Photograph by Ruby Washington — The New York Times/Redux

Enter Bradley Tusk. Tusk spent his twenties and early thirties in high-level political positions such as the Communications Director for US Senator Chuck Schumer, Deputy Governor of Illinois, and campaign manager for New York City tech billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 successful re-election campaign.

Tusk, often applauded for his meticulous organization and ability to get things done in often stagnated political environments, brought his talents to the corporate and tech space by founding Tusk Strategies in 2011, a political consulting firm that has helped companies like Google, Walmart, and Uber run massive multi-jurisdictional campaigns.

Tusk recounts his political and entrepreneurial life in his 2018 book The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics notes that he “fell into tech by accident” when Travis Kalanick, the founder of a small (at the time) transportation startup named Uber, called asking for strategic guidance and help in fighting the taxi industry in New York City. As Uber’s first political advisor, Tusk helped Uber win its disputes in New York City and similar conflicts around the United States.

Tusk operates Tusk Ventures, where he provides political, regulatory, and media guidance to high-stakes startups, investing in some on occasion. In addition to Uber, Tusk has helped many top-tier startups avoid death by politics in the sake of disruption. The list includes:

  • FanDuel and DraftKings (legalizing online daily fantasy sports),
  • Lemonade (big insurance and fighting the strict New York Department of Financial Services to win an insurance license)
  • Eaze (making it simple, safer, and legal to get on-demand marijuana in select areas)
  • Bird (the myriad of issues plaguing the on-demand scooter industry)
  • Handy (in navigating the distinction between contractor and full-time employees)
  • Care/Of (in compliantly marketing the company via influencers)
  • Ripple (one of our beloved cryptocurrency industry’s darlings/devils)

If a high-performing startup gets embroiled in an existentially threatening sticky political situation, chances are Tusk gets a call.

The Tusk Ventures Portfolio as of 5/9/2019.

I got the chance to speak with Tusk in his New York office and discuss his thoughts on blockchain-based voting, the uphill battle ahead for cryptocurrency projects, and what startups can do to succeed in inhospitable political climates. The following article focuses on mobile and blockchain-based voting.

Mobile Voting: Unleashing the Masses in Action

Tusk’s affinity for mobile voting is likely rooted in his successful 2015 strategy for Uber. Uber faced a proposed bill in New York City that would cap its growth rate to 1% per year in the city – basically a sleeper hold on a high-growth startup.

Uber had two million customers in New York City, many of which much preferred Ubers to what they viewed as the outdated, unsafe, and often discriminating taxi cabs. Tusk’s team decided to mobilize Uber’s user base from within the app.

Uber

Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty)

Whenever a user opened Uber in New York City, a popup would quickly explain the issue and make it easy for them to advocate for Uber seamlessly. There was even a “de Blasio” option (idea credited to Kaitlin Durkosh) named after the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio, which if selected, showed people a twenty-five minute wait time and explained the problem. Then, it would ask users to email and tweet at their councilmembers to oppose the bill. Within a single week, 250,000 people did – roughly 10% of Uber’s NYC userbase.

The in-app information, combined with an aggressive advertising campaign that poked at the strings the taxi owners were pulling on the city government, put city hall in a vice.

Tusk was able to alchemize Uber’s massive user base into a political instrument that created ruckus not only for mayor Bill de Blasio, but also the surrounding representatives, officials, and 51 member city council that would be voting on Uber’s future. Representatives from city hall eventually agreed to drop the bill if Uber ended its campaign, which registered as a tremendous landmark success for Uber and Tusk Strategies.

Tusk also employed a similar strategy in a national campaign to help fantasy sports betting platforms FanDuel and DraftKings mobilize their 5 million customers (in the United States and Canada) by sending them geotargeted popups with their state senator and state reps, stating whether their stance on fantasy sports was good or bad.  If a state rep in a small county that is used to 60,000 people voting sees 40,000 new people registering to vote just because they want fantasy sports, they’re likely to try to appeal to them.

Bringing Mobile Voting to the Masses

Bradley Tusk helped startups like Uber, Fanduel, and Draftkings jump over the hurdles of the entrenched interests of politicians, lobbyists, and corporations, and good old fashioned political gridlock.

Given Tusk’s prior political involvement, first-hand accounts of political corruption and stagnation (after all, he worked with Rod Blagojevich at one point), and ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of mobile voting for the interests of startups, it’s no shocker he’s a huge advocate for mobile voting.

“All of Uber’s users had smartphones, all we had to do is engage and mobilize them to keep the service they love using,” Tusk comments. “Mobile voting brings the election to where the people are, instead of demanding they go to local polls to have a say.”

Along with his wife Harper Montgomery, Tusk founded Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies, a foundation with a mission to create a reliable and efficient way to vote with your phone.

Mobile voting is a powerful concept for two data-backed reasons:

  • It’s estimated that 80% to 95% of all adults in the United States own cellphones, 68% of them smartphones in 2015. Most people are tethered to their smartphones all day, using them for an increasing amount of needs such as banking, transportation, and even dating. Voting from your pocket isn’t nearly as foreign a concept as it was two decades ago, let when our voting laws were created in the 18th century.
  • Voter turnout in presidential elections has hovered around 55% since 1960. However, if you’ve been anywhere near social media platforms around election time, people don’t shut up about politics. Social media has helped stimulate and engage millions of people in political conversation. With 169.5 million people using Facebook in the United States (about 52% of the population), there is almost an equal population using Facebook regularly as there is that votes. Sure, this statistic includes many people who can’t vote (age, felonies, etc.,) but that doesn’t take away from how large a slice of the U.S. population (particularly the younger portion of it) is somewhat comfortable, if not immersed, in tech.

The case for mobile voting heats up even more when scoping local elections, where the per-vote impact of every person is much higher, but voter turnouts are pitiful.

For example, in the 2013 Democratic primary for mayor in New York City, only 691,000 out of 8.5 million people voted, 282,000 of them for the winner Bill de Blasi, who would later win the race with 8% of the total population’s vote. Essentially, it took 3.3% of New York City’s voting population to elect the mayor of the financial capital of the world and home to one of the most diverse communities in the world. Tusk was able to mobilize 250,000 people to oppose de Blasio’s Uber-antagonistic bill with a single app feature. 

Low voter turnout doesn’t necessarily make any winning politician a villain. It just means the system is broken and can be manipulated. Someone who is elected by a small percentage is going to run operations to try to benefit that percentage, if not the total amount of people that vote at polls. And 100% of a city’s population? Well, their voices simply aren’t as loud unless they’re on penciled in on a ballot. After all, the game for most politicians isn’t to be good in office – it’s to stay in office.

Justin Merriman Getty Images

Tusk, along with many Americans disillusioned with the current American political system, is eager to explore mobile voting to change things. “The idea isn’t to get rid of the old ballot-box system,” comments Tusk. “It’s to utilize modern technology to expand our democracy and incentivize our leaders to lead for the majority instead of a small few people that actually filled out a ballot.”

Estonia, for example, has allowed its citizens to cast ballots from a computer with an Internet connection anywhere in the world since 2005, and the government claims 30% of Estonia’s estimated 1.3 million people use the system to cast votes electronically.

The United States has a history of very close elections, which usually end enmeshed in scandal in this writer’s lovely and totally never dysfunctional birthplace of Broward County, Florida.

Mobile voting, in its lofty ideals of precision, rapid tracking, and tamper-proofing, would encourage more people to vote. For the abysmally low voter turnout in local elections, mobile voting would be a gamechanger for underrepresented populations.

Additionally, the technological preferences of voting demographics will look much different in a few election cycles. If anecdotal evidence is of any value here, we Millennials might be either very opinionated or politically apathetic, but as a unit we are generally too busy, lazy, or distracted to go out and vote in a local election, unless of course there’s some level of social media clout in the form of a trendy I Voted sticker. The verdict is still out on whether Gen Z will survive its mumble rap and Tidepod-eating phase, but it tends to be even more hooked on smartphones than Millennials.

If the option to vote via smartphone were available, chances are voter turnout numbers would be bolstered by younger crowds, and politicians would need to find a way to cater to the needs of the voters rather than lobbyists and campaign funders.

In an interview with The New Yorker, Tusk said “We’re working with these guys to help us get it right. But my view is less that the greatest threat to our democracy is the risk of hacking. The greatest threat to our democracy is that nobody votes.”

The Current State of Blockchain Voting

The frontrunners of the blockchain voting initiative are inevitably going to be the projects implementing their products as opposed to just blowing hot air in the form of whitepapers.

Today’s executions of blockchain voting companies seem fairly paltry in the scope of national elections, but they are worth noting.

Voatz seems to be ahead of its lackluster pack of competitors in taking charge to spearhead blockchain voting. Voatz raised a $2.2 million seed round led by Medici Ventures, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Overstock.com (see tZero.)

Voatz

The project’s blockchain-based voting system was recently implemented in West Virginia, primarily to enable military personnel and ordinary citizens to vote using their phones. Tusk Montgomery funded the small pilot with $150,000. In the 2018 primary election, two of the state’s 55 counties used Voatz and only 13 people cast their vote using the system. In the 2018 midterm election, the number of counties offering Voatz voting grew to 24 and nearly 150 people voted – about an 11.5x growth rate in just a few months.

Voatz was also used in Denver, Colorado’s municipal election on May 7th, 2019.

Agora, another blockchain voting company, is also sometimes referenced in the mobile voting discussion. Agora’s site claims its digital voting protocol was partially deployed in Sierra Leone as an International Observer to run a study showcasing blockchain for voting. The site continues to note that the voting protocol was “partially deployed to record votes from a sample of polling stations on an immutable blockchain ledger,” leading to results that provided accurate results from the studied areas days ahead of the manual tally processes.

sierraleone

However, the case study link to “Access the Results” goes to a “Not Secure” site Chrome warning, and then sends the searcher to an Italian hotel’s website. This is one of the more popular projects exploring blockchain voting, something that needs to be as airtight, transparent, and secure as possible.

The company also found itself in hot water after what CEO Leo Grammar called a “bout of miscommunication and a few PR mistakes made on our behalf.” Agora essentially exaggerated the project’s role, claiming the entire election was run on blockchain as opposed to simply just being a concurrent study on a limited sample size, akin to that of a science fair project.

Other projects in the space include Votem, Democracy Earth, Follow My Vote, and Boulé, which currently appear to be rudimentary concepts with landing pages promoting the blockchain voting concept as opposed to bona fide projects politicians (or journalists) can sink their teeth into.

Blockchain Voting’s Long Road Ahead

Every movement has its pioneers. Mobile voting has enormous implications for the United States and the rest of the world, but it’s also a precarious journey littered with booby traps and hostility.  

Fighting the Old Guard as a Poor Orphan Baby

Many blockchain-voting companies are enlisting in an incredibly steep uphill battle, operating from mostly empty coffers and vague schemes for monetization.

First off, no politician who has spent their life mastering the art of raising campaign money, getting elected, and staying in office is likely willing to welcome something as fundamentally ground shaking as having millions of people that usually don’t vote to start voting from their phone. Not only will the incumbent politicians be throwing their careers into the tides of fate, but they’ll also be giving a technological advantage to a new wave of politicians capable of engaging and mobilizing new hordes of voters.

Congress

Congress doing Congress things. Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Those who like things the way they are – in other words, every current politician, interest group, union, major donors, and anyone else who has no interest in making it easier for people to challenge their power – will raise a host of objections to mobile voting,” Tusk writes in his book.

Second, it’s going to take an enormous amount of resources to go about tackling the establishment, especially with its stockpiles of campaign money, taxpayer money, and deep connections with people that have mastered the inside and outside game of politics. Additionally, battling the established voting processes isn’t as simple as attacking a single fortified castle; it means waging war on thousands of strongholds across state lines. While the governments of the thousands of states and cities might have different priorities, they still march under a single tune.

“[Mass mobile voting is] going to mean changing laws in each state to allow for mobile voting, developing a model set of election rules, policies, and procedures that can be adapted for each jurisdiction, finding a few jurisdictions willing to conduct a pilot program to give the idea a try, and convincing major social platforms, as well as the device developers themselves, to help out by constantly reminding their users to vote,” notes Tusk.

A lack of good monetization options reduces a project’s access to funding from investors, and altruism alone likely isn’t enough to uproot one of the strongest political systems of all time.

The Blockchain Voting Manipulation Argument

It’s not a stretch to assume a two-party political system with a shady history with gerrymandering, corruption, voter intimidation, manipulation via media (and recently social media), and ballot stuffing won’t have masters of the political dark arts find ways to manipulate mobile or blockchain-based voting.

The blockchain itself may be immutable, but there are still many points of failure that could be exploited in a variety of its use cases. The exploitation itself isn’t so unnerving, because let’s face it, political strategists have had a few centuries to find ways to outsmart the current political system. What is unsettling, however, is if a mobile voting system were compromised, it would be done so at scale and likely hard to detect until too late.

The “What if Quantum Computing Derails Our Political System?” Argument

Quantum computing, often referred to as the “crypto killer,” is a looming existential threat that would render blockchain-based voting useless. Quantum computers are able to perform calculations that would otherwise be theoretically impossible for today’s computers in a reasonable time frame, which means anything from molecule simulation (quantum chemistry means potentially finding cures for diseases within days rather than years or decades), logistics optimizations, and cracking cryptographic codes.

Bitcoin, for example, is incredibly stable under current computing, but quantum computing would crack it like Humpy Dumpty, who legend has it once sat on a great wall and had a great fall. A traditional computer today would need to perform 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 basic operations to derive a Bitcoin private key from a public address, or 340 undecillion (340 billion billion billion billion).

Using Shor’s algorithm, a significantly large quantum computer would need just about 2,097,152 operations to crack a private key, a much more manageable number than a one with the word “billion” four times in its name.

Many high-powered quantum computers are still years away. However, the argument that utilizing a blockchain-based e-voting system as a primary voting method of our democratic system takes a stern gut punch by quantum doomsayers. Whether quantum computing will pose a threat to the quantum-resistant blockchain projects, the idea alone is confusing and techy enough to spin into an anti-blockchain voting campaign.

Final Thoughts – Building a Mobile Voting Foundation for the Future

The theory of digital voting with the use of blockchain technology seems to be picking support, but it is going to have trouble materializing without adequate talent and capital to bring it to life.

However, this is just the case for today. Americans likely aren’t going to be convinced to support something that already sounds confusing and too techy to elect our leaders, especially if our only data points are thirteen people using blockchain to vote with their phones in West Virginia.

But, that’s exactly what these projects are right now – data points. “This is probably a ten- to twenty-year project, and it’s going to mean having rock-solid answers to […] concerns about hacking, especially as concerns about foreign interference in U.S. elections via Facebook, Google, and Twitter only grow,” Tusk wrote in his book and reinforced in our conversation. “The more instances we have of successful blockchain-based mobile voting, the better the argument for it will be in the future.”

We likely won’t see mobile voting or voting on the blockchain in upcoming national elections, but for now, it’s about collecting data points that demonstrate that it is feasible. If anything, today’s successful blockchain-voting projects will serve as much-needed ammunition for future generations that will take the torch of liberty and ignite the path between our archaic political system and the technology of tomorrow.


Featured image by Buck Ennis

This article is Originally posted on CoinCentral.com
Author: Alex Moskov

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Surpasses $15.3K; Ether Up 210% in 2020 – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

CoinDesk 20 Bitcoin Price Index

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Surpasses $15.3K; Ether Up 210% in 2020

Bitcoin is hitting fresh highs during a surge past $15,000 while investors may be overlooking the upside of ether in 2020.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $15,087 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 7.7% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $14,005-$15,306
  • BTC above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a bullish signal for market technicians.
btcnov5
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Nov. 2.
Source: TradingView

The price of bitcoin jumped Thursday, going up to $15,306 around 15:50 UTC (10:50 a.m. ET), according to CoinDesk 20 data, taking it to its highest price point since Jan. 8, 2018, when bitcoin’s high was $15,360. It has dipped since, settling at $15,087 as of press time. 

“Bitcoin is above the psychological threshold of $15,000 today on strongly positive momentum, having cleared resistance from 2019,” said Katie Stockton, a technical analyst for Fairlead Strategies. 

Momentum, in the form of volume, was strong Thursday on leading USD/BTC spot exchanges. It was $1,233,248,261 as of press time, the highest since Oct. 21 when volume hit $1,273,812,127.

volumenov5
Spot BTC/USD volumes on major exchanges the past month.
Source: Shaui Hao/CoinDesk Research

Stockton suspects momentum may subside, which may cause a price pullback. “There are some signs of short-term upside exhaustion from an overbought/oversold perspective supporting a few weeks of consolidation, but we would see this as healthy from a technical perspective.”

Analysts still see bitcoin as an asset to bet on in uncertain times over the long term. 

“The U.S. is going to push the spending button again no matter who wins the White House,” noted Henrik Kugelberg. Next year “will probably see more individual support payments all over the world, and some of that money is inevitably gonna be placed in bitcoin.”  

“The macroeconomic situation in the U.S. and elsewhere is far more uncertain, and concerns about COVID-19’s resurgence sending the economy back into a tailspin are not entirely unfounded,” noted Guy Hirsch, U.S. managing director at multi-asset brokerage eToro. “All in all, it feels like a perfect storm for retail [bitcoin] adoption that’s coming right at the beginning of an expected wave of institutional capital,” he added. While most markets are up Thursday along with crypto, the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the greenback versus a basket of other fiat currencies, is in the red 0.88% Thursday as of press time, down 1.6% since the start of November. 

dxynov5
The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) since Nov. 1.
Source: TradingView

In the futures market, open interest for bitcoin contracts was back at $5.4 billion, with CME’s $804 million taking third place of all venues as institutional investors poured money in. The CME is a U.S.-regulated exchange for larger investors and brokerages, therefore its open interest growth is a signal large players are placing hedges and directional positions as part of some sort of bitcoin strategy. 

skew_btc_futures__aggregated_open_interest-25
Bitcoin futures open interest the past year.
Source: Skew

“Interestingly, while aggregate futures open interest (OI) has risen back to $5.4 billion (late October highs), the increments were very steady and managed,” noted Denis Vinokourov, head of research at digital asset prime broker Bequant. “This suggests that the more regulated entities that operate in the current ecosystem are taking a more pragmatic approach to the current FOMO.“

Ether outperforming bitcoin

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was up Thursday, trading around $414 and climbing 3.4% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET). 

Bitcoin boosters like to talk about its 2020 price gains as a hedge against an uncertain global economy. However, ether has done even better than bitcoin so far this year, up 210% versus bitcoin’s 95% gains. 

btcvsethnov5
Bitcoin’s performance versus ether in 2020.
Source: Shuai Hao/CoinDesk Research

John Willock, chief executive officer of crypto liquidity provider Tritum, said investors like ether’s potential as both a hedge and a bet on the possible future of finance. 

“Ether holds similar qualities to bitcoin as a general economic uncertainty hedge but also has the added value of utility with the network it powers,” Willock said. “With the long-anticipated forthcoming ETH 2.0 proof-of-stake upgrade, it will, from an investment perspective, become a yield-bearing instrument which has much broader appeal.”

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are all green Thursday. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Equities:

Commodities:

  • Oil was down 1.5%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $38.52.
  • Gold was in the green 2.5% and at $1,950 as of press time.

Treasurys:

  • U.S. Treasury bond yields were mixed Thursday. Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were up most on the two-year bond, climbing to 0.149 and in the green 1.3%.
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Market Wrap: Bitcoin Jumps to $14.2K; Ethereum Gas Usage Grows 113% YTD – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

CoinDesk 20 Bitcoin Price Index

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Jumps to $14.2K; Ethereum Gas Usage Grows 113% YTD

Bitcoin is making gains during the U.S. presidential election uncertainty while Ethereum’s gas data is highlighting a DeFi decline.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $14,061 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 2.2% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $13,545-$14,232
  • BTC above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a bullish signal for market technicians.
btcnov4
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Nov. 2.

Bitcoin’s price made gains Wednesday, hitting as high as $14,232 around 17:00 UTC (12 p.m. UTC), according to CoinDesk 20 data, after a brief dip in earlier trading. 

“Bitcoin has recovered from its post-election drop, crossing the $14,000 level once more,” said John Kramer, a trader at crypto market making firm GSR. “The asset has done a good job of going its own way all year, vastly outperforming stocks.” 

Bitcoin is up 90% versus the S&P 500’s comparatively paltry 4.5% performance in 2020.

btcvsequities2020
Bitcoin versus global equities in 2020.
Source: Shaui Hao/CoinDesk Research

Stocks are up Wednesday despite the lack of a confirmed winner as yet in the U.S. presidential election. “Equities are unmoved by the uncertainty, rallying in the face of two possible outcomes,” GSR’s Kramer added. 

Jason Lau, chief operating officer for San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin, said he is not convinced that bitcoin’s jump Wednesday has anything to do with the election’s outcome. “While all eyes are on the election, it’s too early to attribute bitcoin’s gains to it in terms of the macro policy impact from either candidate,” Lau told CoinDesk. 

Cryptocurrency analysts are also keeping an eye on the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the greenback’s strength against a basket of other currencies, which is up 0.15% as of press time. “The dollar downtrend is due to resume,” said Bill Noble, Chief Technical Analyst at Token Metrics

dxy2020nov4
U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) in 2020.
Source: TradingView

Bitcoiners, as is often the case, remain bullish nevertheless.

“Too many people believe the election can stop the crypto uptrend,” Token Metrics’ Noble said. “A strong desire for economic freedom and the emergence of inflation drives the uptrend in crypto. Those trends are in motion, and they will remain in motion regardless of who occupies the White House.” 

“My opinion is BTC will go up regardless of who wins this election in the short- to mid-term,” noted Alessandro Andreotti, an over-the-counter crypto trader.

One signal for bullish sentiment: Overnight, over 6,700 CME bitcoin futures contracts traded (33,500 equivalent BTC), 75% more than what has been observed year to date and more than double the volume observed since launch, according to a representative from CME.

Ethereum gas up, fees down

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was up Wednesday trading around $400 and climbing 4.6% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET). 

Usage on Ethereum, in terms of total gas, has grown 113% in 2020 so far, from 37,252,588,523 on Jan. 1 to 79,617,868,730 on Tuesday. 

etheregasused2020
Total gas used on Ethereum since Jan. 1, 2020
Source: Glassnode

Meanwhile, fees on the Ethereum network, required to conduct transactions and interact with decentralized finance, or DeFi, continue to be lower. On Nov. 1, average transaction fees dipped as low as 0.00229753 ETH.

ethereumfees2020
Mean transaction fees on Ethereum since Jan. 1, 2020
Source: Glassnode

Ben Chan, vice president of engineering for oracle provider Chainlink, says this data suggests despite the growth in 2020, there is currently less demand on the Ethereum network as interest in DeFi has seemingly waned. “What this could mean is people are less urgent to get transactions in, they’re willing to wait longer,” he told CoinDesk.

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mixed Wednesday. Notable winners as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Notable losers:

Commodities:

  • Oil was up 2.1%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $38.93.
  • Gold was in the red 0.24% and at $1,904 as of press time.

Treasurys:

  • U.S. Treasury bond yields fell Wednesday. Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were down most on the two-year bond, dipping to 0.145 and in the red 15.9%.
https://www.coindesk.com/coindesk20
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https://www.coindesk.com/market-wrap-bitcoin-jumps-ethereum-gas-usage-grows

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Venezuela to Incorporate Bitcoin and Litecoin Wallets into National Remittances Platform – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

Venezuela says it will incorporate bitcoin and litecoin wallets to its Patria’s Cryptocurrency Remittance Platform. In an update, authorities in the country say this move will enable Venezuelan citizens to formally receive remittances in cryptocurrency form. Many citizens of hyperinflation hit Venezuela already use bitcoin as a store of value as well as for cross border payments.

Plans of Adding Bitcoin-Petro Trading Pairs

The formal incorporation of bitcoin into the national remittances system will likely boost the use of cryptos by Venezuelans. The country already ranks third on the list of countries with the highest cryptocurrency usage in the world.

Meanwhile, this announcement issued via the Patria blog, is a continuation of a pattern of crypto policy amendments made by the Maduro government as it tries to counter the effects of US sanctions.

In an update published October 28, the Caracas government-which still hopes to see the widespread embrace of its failed petro token-also talks about the “incorporation of petro [and] bitcoin and petro [and] litecoin pairs into an exchange system.” However, the update has no details about this exchange system or when this planned incorporation is set to happen.

In the meantime, the update also reveals the plan to introduce “commissions and fees for exchange and remittances.” The Maduro government is planning what it terms an “implementation of a service commission for all operations carried out in the Petro, Bitcoin and Litecoin wallets.”

Phased Introduction

While the update does not provide the finer details, it does, however, clarify that some of these functions will be introduced in phases. The loosely translated Spanish language update says:

In the few days following this update, some of these functionalities will only be available to a select number of users for purposes of testing the changes. The Patria Platform will gradually incorporate all these and other services, which due to their extension will require several days of updating and monitoring.

Despite facing the US government accusations of using bitcoin to evade sanctions, authorities in Venezuela now appear more determined to embrace the top crypto than before. The government recently announced the formal recognition and endorsement of cryptocurrency mining.

However, just like the latest update, Caracas is placing conditions that may work against the greater objective of increasing use and adoption of decentralized and censorship-resistant cryptos like bitcoin.

It remains to be seen if the members of the Venezuelan expatriate community are going to embrace the proposed incorporation of bitcoin into the remittance system.

Do you think incorporating bitcoin into Venezuela’s national remittance system is going to help Caracas? Share your views in the comments section below.

The post Venezuela to Incorporate Bitcoin and Litecoin Wallets into National Remittances Platform appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Price Update: Litecoin (LTC) and Cardano (ADA) – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

Litecoin breaks below $58 after testing a critical resistance line while ADA drops below $0.100

While Bitcoin (BTC) has traded higher over the past two days, several large – cap altcoins have struggled to piece together a similar trend. Ethereum broke above $400 but is back below the level, as is XRP that traded at highs above $0.25. Analysts say that the altcoin market will likely follow BTC if the king of crypto rallies to a new all – time high above $20,000.

Litecoin and Cardano are also struggling at the time of writing but could rally higher if bulls hold gains at key levels.

Litecoin price

LTC/USD recently broke above a horizontal resistance line and touched highs of $61. The cryptocurrency is, however, suffering selling pressure as liquidity rotates to Bitcoin.

At the moment,  LTC is trading just beneath a critical resistance area near the $60 area. If bulls push from current levels and break above the hurdle, a rally to highs near September 1 levels will confirm a potential bull run to highs of $84.

But the short term picture points to a decline before another leg up.

The price is above an inverse head – and – shoulders (H&S) pattern, but the daily MACD and Stochastic Oscillator suggest a bearish divergence. If bears take control, bulls will likely rely on the H&S neckline at $51 for refuge.

At the time of writing, LTC/USD is trading at $58, but despite a drawdown from highs of $61, bulls are likely to remain in control if they hold the level.

LTC price chart. Source: TradingView

Cardano price

The price of ADA token has dropped by more than 5% in the past 24 hours to see it trade at lows of $0.099.

Although bulls have hit highs of $0.103 on the day, the increased sell – off pressure means that ADA/USD still faces a major resistance line that is preventing a retest of $0.11.

The ADA/USD pair is capped at the 50 – SMA on the 4 – hour chart, and if the downward flip continues, a dip to lows of $0.098 and $0.095 will be more than likely.

The technical picture also suggests bears are fancying a retest of the 200 – SMA line at $0.0926 on the daily timeframe. If this happens, bulls will have their work cut out if they have to break higher.

The daily chart also features a bearishly inclined MACD and RSI to suggest that the downtrend is likely to persist.

ADA/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

However, bulls can retake control if a key candlestick pattern forms in the next few sessions on the daily chart. The TD sequential has printed a red eight and the flip will be confirmed if a red nine appears.

Price Update: Litecoin (LTC) and Cardano (ADA)

Original Article
Author: btcethereumadmin

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Jumps to $13.7K, Nearing 2019’s High; Ether Volatility Reverses Course – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

CoinDesk 20 Bitcoin Price Index

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Jumps to $13.7K, Nearing 2019’s High; Ether Volatility Reverses Course

Bitcoin made gains Tuesday toward its 2019 high while ether’s volatility rose after an October in decline.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $13,668 as of 20:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 5% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $13,008-$13,756
  • BTC above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a bullish signal for market technicians.
btcoct27
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Oct. 25.
Source: TradingView

Bitcoin’s price was on a steady run upward Tuesday, hitting as high as $13,756.33 before settling down to $13,668, according to CoinDesk 20 data. It is now within reach of its 2019 high of $13,879.24; any point above that puts bitcoin prices where they were during the late 2017-early 2018 bull run and subsequent collapse. Increased spot bitcoin volume, at $840 million, helped lead the price higher Tuesday. That figure has averaged $432 million daily over the past month. 

Micah Erstling, trader at crypto liquidity provider GSR, said bitcoin has broken away from stocks, at least temporarily, not long after the world’s oldest cryptocurrency took a short dip Monday when stocks also fell. “Bitcoin quickly broke the correlation to stocks after yesterday’s plunge, rallying back even as stocks remained tepid,” he said. Indeed, major equity indexes were flat or down Tuesday.

“Most risk-on assets were impacted by news of a stimulus stalemate and rising virus numbers,” Erstling noted. “Traders are shaking off that sentiment today and returning to the long-term fundamentals that have propelled bitcoin to an over-85% gain” for the year to date.

btcvoloct27
Spot volume on major USD/BTC exchanges the past month.
Source: Shuai Hao/CoinDesk Research

“We’ve seen increased buying activity over the last two weeks,” said Michael Rabkin, head of Institutional Sales at crypto market maker DV Chain. “On top of that, the U.S. is close to approving a record $1.8 trillion stimulus plan. People are looking at alternatives like bitcoin to protect their wealth.”

Judging by the bitcoin options market’s open interest, positive sentiment seems to be picking up. Monday saw bitcoin options open interest crack $2.5 billion for the second time in October, with the first time being last Thursday, Oct. 22.

skew_total_btc_options_open_interest-17
Bitcoin options open interest on major venues the past six months.
Source: Skew

“Based on the bitcoin options data, a lot of traders are hedging and locking-in profits and current price levels,” Daniel Koehler, liquidity manager at San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin, told CoinDesk. “Volumes are up across the board along with the price, so it is a sign of increased near-term bullish bias.”

Ether volatility up

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was up Tuesday, trading around $406 and climbing 3.7% in 24 hours as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET). 

Ether’s volatility, measured by the standard deviation of daily log returns on an annualized basis, has been much higher than bitcoin’s volatility in 2020. While ether’s volatility had been dropping in October, it crept back up again, going from 49.99% Sunday to 51.75% Monday.

btcvsethvolatilitoct27
Ether versus bitcoin volatility in 2020.
Source: Shuai Hao/CoinDesk Research

Ether itself is up over 210% in 2020, while bitcoin has risen over 88% this year so far. Quant trading firm QCP Capital on Tuesday noted ether’s market risks and its potential to underperform over the balance of 2020 due to exploitation of decentralized finance, or DeFi. 

“ETH has been hit yet again by DeFi worries after another smart contract platform exploitation/hack – this time Harvest,” QCP wrote in its weekly investor note. “This will weigh further on ETH and could cause it to underperform BTC in the near term.”

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mostly green Tuesday. Notable winners as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Notable losers:

Commodities:

  • Oil was up 2.1%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $39.41.
  • Gold was in the green 0.32% and at $1,907 as of press time.

Treasurys:

  • U.S. Treasury bond yields all fell Tuesday. Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were down most on the 10-year, dipping to 0.774 and in the red 3.3%.
https://www.coindesk.com/coindesk20
The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market

https://www.coindesk.com/market-wrap-bitcoin-jumps-nearing-2019-high-ether-volatility-reverses

Original Article
Author: btcethereumadmin

Litecoin jumps 18% to lock gains above $55 – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

Litecoin is registering the biggest gains as crypto market turns bullish on PayPal adoption news

Litecoin (LTC) is trading higher on the day, jumping more than 14% in the past 24 hours. Litecoin’s upside momentum has gathered pace after an initial 11% spike came soon after the payments processing firm PayPal announced support for cryptocurrencies.

The cryptocurrency has broken above several hurdles, soaring from a low of $46 to touch highs near $56.50.

LTC price against the US dollar is currently around $55.50, up 5% on the day and over 18% in the previous session. Overall, Litecoin price is up 14% in the past 24 hours. LTC is also performing well against BTC, with the pair up more than 9% in the past 24 hours.

According to Asset Dash, a platform that tracks and ranks global assets by market cap, Litecoin’s $3.66-billion valuation has pushed it 71 places into 1306 globally. CoinMarketCap ranks LTC as the eighth largest cryptocurrency, behind ChainLink which has a market cap of $4.3 billion at the time of writing.

LTC/USD technical analysis

The daily chart has LTC/USD changing hands above the 50-day and 100-day simple moving averages. It is the first time the pair has traded above the moving average in over a month. If bulls hold these levels, the uptrend is likely to take it above $60.

LTC/USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

The outlook on this time frame suggests that slight resistance is expected at $59.42. The area is close to the 78.6% Fib retracement level of the swing low from $62.87 high to $44.63 low. A breakout above this area highlights the next hurdle around $64.79.

The MACD level (12, 26) is flashing buy signals at 0.94, but the RSI is currently trending within the neutral zone. This suggests that while the bulls retain the advantage, the short term picture may involve a retrace to prices below $55.

LTC/USD 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

On the 4-hour chart, the RSI is trending up but not yet overextended. If it does, it’s likely to scuttle bulls’ plans, with prices dipping to accommodate an influx of selling pressure. However, the MACD is still bullish, indicating that any potential pullback for the LTC/USD might not be catastrophic to bulls’ plans.

If bears establish a foothold, healthy support around the SMA50 and SMA100 levels suggests that the bulls might still have enough power to withstand the downward pressure.

Litecoin jumps 18% to lock gains above $55

Original Article
Author: btcethereumadmin

Market Wrap: PayPal Powers Bitcoin Past $12.8K as Ether Dominance Drops – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

CoinDesk 20 Bitcoin Price Index

Market Wrap: PayPal Powers Bitcoin Past $12.8K as Ether Dominance Drops

Bitcoin blows past its previous 2020 high while ether’s crypto market share dips from its 2020 high in September.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $12,709 as of 20:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 6.4% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $11,863-$12,916
  • BTC above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a bullish signal for market technicians.
btcoct21
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Oct. 19.
Source: TradingView

Bitcoin’s price has been on a tear this week, rising for the third straight day and hitting as high as $12,916 on spot exchange Bitstamp on Wednesday. The recent development from payments firm PayPal confirming it will incorporate crypto for its users and merchants helped sparked the record 2020 high for the world’s oldest cryptocurrency, at $12,709 as of press time. 

“PayPal dropped the most important piece of news for large retail adoption this year, full support for bitcoin,” noted Henrik Kugelberg, an over-the-counter crypto trader based in Sweden. PayPal’s stock price (NASDAQ: PYPL) is also hitting record highs in 2020 and is up 92% this year so far. 

pypl
PayPal Holdings daily trading in 2020.
Source: TradingView

The potential for bitcoin to be inserted further into consumer finance is what is helping its bull run, noted Zac Prince, CEO of crypto lender BlockFi. “This coalescing of fintech and bitcoin is yet another bullish development for investors,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting 12 months ahead as bitcoin continues to expand further into consumer finance.” 

It is not just the PayPal news helping bitcoin trend higher, noted Micah Erstling, a trader at GSR. “It’s promising to see bitcoin holding above the $12,000 mark with continued institutional interest and wider regulated adoption taking place,” Erstling told CoinDesk. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on central bank digital currencies (CBDC) “clearly demonstrates that digital assets are being taken seriously, while Square and PayPal headlines are fueling a better digital ecosystem via payments and treasury.”

btcsince19
Daily spot trading on Bitstamp since 2019.
Source: TradingView

The last time bitcoin hit this price level was back on July 10, 2019. The overall excitement has led to volume on major USD/BTC spot exchanges Wednesday that were much higher than normal, at $1,165,166,691 as of press time. In fact, the last time volume was so high was back on Sept. 4, when daily volume was $1,089,417,516.

volchartoct21
Volume on major USD/BTC spot exchanges the past two months.
Source: Shuai Hao/CoinDesk Research

Several market analysts see bitcoin heading much higher before 2020 is over, including Katie Stockton, a technical analyst for Fairlead Strategies. The breakout in July put the next major resistance on the chart at the 2019 high, aligned with a long-term Fibonacci retracement level near $14,000, she said. “We think a test of this level is likely in the months ahead.”

Constantin Kogan, a partner at cryptocurrency fund-of-funds BitBull Capital, echoed that sentiment. “Bitcoin has a good chance of reaching its $14,000 resistance mark for about a two-times gain this year as the market hasn’t fully absorbed all the positive news.”

As for derivatives, bitcoin open interest on CME, a venue for sophisticated investors that is often used to hedge risks, has been on an uptrend, noted William Purdy, a derivatives trader and founder of analysis firm PurdyAlerts.

skew_btc_futures__aggregated_open_interest-19
Bitcoin futures open interest on CME the past three months.
Source: Skew

“Futures open interest rising as price rising is a bullish trend that suggests the trend will likely to continue as fresh money is seen entering the market,” said Purdy. “CME volume surging shows strong institutional interest.”

However, quant trader QCP Capital highlighted some 2020 uncertainty still ahead in its investor note Wednesday. “We look to the U.S. elections as a medium-term risk still. With all the regulatory reminders we’ve already had this month, anything emanating from that department around election time would be a major cause for concern.” 

Ether dominance slips

Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was up Wednesday trading around $391 and climbing 6.2% in 24 hours as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET). 

After hitting a 2020 high of 14% on Sept. 1, ether’s share of the cryptocurrency market cap has declined. A measure of an asset versus the larger crypto market capitalization, “dominance” is a metric traders watch to gauge sentiment. As of press time, the number was at 11.7% Wednesday. 

ethdomoct21
Ether dominance in 2020.
Source: TradingView

Despite the drop, George Clayton, managing partner at investment firm Cryptanalysis Capital, doesn’t put too much stock in ether’s dominance decline and remains ebullient on decentralized finance, or DeFi, deployed on the Ethereum network. “DeFi has Ethereum going gangbusters – lots of utility going on,” he said “I cannot be bearish ETH.”

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are all green Wednesday. Notable winners as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Equities:

Commodities:

  • Oil was down 2.6%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $40.03.
  • Gold was in the green 0.86% and at $1,924 as of press time.

Treasurys:

  • U.S. Treasury bond yields were mixed Wednesday. Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were up most on the 10-year, jumping to 0.811 and in the green 2.5%.
https://www.coindesk.com/coindesk20
The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market

https://www.coindesk.com/market-wrap-paypal-powers-bitcoin-ether-dominance-drops

Original Article
Author: btcethereumadmin

Litecoin Surges After PayPal Includes It Among the Cryptos Customers Can Buy, Sell, Hold – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

Litecoin (LTC) rose more than 10% on Wednesday, outperforming bitcoin (BTC) to top the list of the best-performing major cryptocurrencies after PayPal confirmed it’s entering the cryptocurrency market and included LTC on the list of cryptos its customers will be able to buy, sell and hold.

  • LTC, the ninth-largest cryptocurrency by market value, jumped more than 12% to $52.64, the level last seen on Sept. 3.
  • The surge came after PayPal, with 346 million active accounts around the world, pledged to make cryptocurrency “a funding source for purchases at its 26 million merchants worldwide.”
  • Initially, the service supports BTC, ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH) and LTC, the payments giant said.
  • The announcement acted like rocket fuel to the crypto market overall as it may be a step to bringing crypto usage one step closer to the mainstream.
  • BTC, the crypto market leader, jumped 6% to a fresh 2020 high of more than $12,700 before settling down to $12.688, up 5.99%, while ETH and BCH rose 4% and 7%, respectively.
  • While LTC’s double-digit price rise is impressive, its relatively less liquid than BTC so a relatively big orders can have substantial impact on price.
  • “LTC markets are thinly traded and its largely spot, so traders don’t have many ways to express sentiment other than trade spot,” CoinShares CSO Meltem Demirors told CoinDesk in a Twitter chat.

UPDATE: 17:40 UTC: Adds commentary on litecoin’s lack of liquidity.

https://www.coindesk.com/litecoin-surges-after-paypal-includes-it-among-the-cryptos-its-customers-can-buy-sell-hold

Original Article
Author: btcethereumadmin

Bitcoin soars to $12.9K as PayPal proves crypto is ready for everyone – BTC Ethereum Crypto Currency Blog

Further gains in Wednesday trading come as mixed reactions flow in over PayPal’s decision to support four cryptocurrencies in 2021.

Bitcoin (BTC) hit highs of $12,865 during trading on Oct. 21 as news that PayPal would support cryptocurrency continued to boost markets.

Cryptocurrency daily market overview. Source: Coin360

BTC price closes in on 2019 highs

Data from Cointelegraph Markets, Coin360 and TradingView confirmed Bitcoin’s best day in over a year as 24-hour gains topped 7%.

At press time, hours after rising to $12,400, BTC/USD crossed $12,500 to only see resistance at just below $13,000.

BTC/USD 1-hour price chart. Source: TradingView

As Cointelegraph reported, PayPal plans to support Bitcoin and three altcoins — Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) from next year.