Category: Exchange & Remmitance

Bitcoin Hits $13 Billion Value

Although the push for increased international regulation of Bitcoin continues to gain momentum, the threat of oversight and scrutiny has done little to assuage to the fascination with this anonymous online currency whose value has now reached a monumental $13 billion. Although Bitcoin remains one of the most popular “virtual currencies” in existence today, there are well over 90 of these monetary systems currently in operation, many of which have gained some measure of credibility with retailers and merchants around the world.


The call for enhanced scrutiny of virtual currencies is largely due to the stigma that they have gained due to their popularity in criminal circles. The anonymity that Bitcoin affords users has become a valuable tool for those wishing to engage in illicit activities and avoid a larger paper trail.

Although several Bitcoin operators and exchanges did suspend their operations following the initial onset of the “big brother” bureaucratic mechanisms, the majority of these organisations are now operating at full capacity yet again. Regulation, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, some prominent Bitcoin heavyweights have argued. By allowing for an internationally mandated “rules of order,” Bitcoin users can also gain increased confidence in the currency due to the fact that the threat of catastrophic seizure or infrastructure collapse is much less likely. Regulation may also help protect virtual currency users from malicious scams and fraudulent offers that, up until this point, have been relatively invincible due to previous policies.

As virtual currencies continue to gain prominence in the contemporary economic landscape, it is inevitable that dramatic policy changes will continue to occur. Where this ultimately ends, however, remains to be seen. As many virtual currency users will attest to, the appeal of these products is not only in their monetary worth. On an idealistic level, Bitcoin represents an opportunity for “sovereignty” in a world that many believe is already too over-regulated. The community itself is largely responsible for Bitcoin’s success. Were enhanced policy-making to confine the level of operations enjoyed by current Bitcoin users, the currency may see it’s overall popularity and, thus, worth, decline.

Osborne to target foreign exchange manipulation

In a statement which could be causing numerous brokers and financial strategists to sweat, Chancellor Osborne has announced that he will be working closely with a variety of regulatory experts in order to ensure that the foreign exchange marketplace within the City Of London is free of corruption and other dubious dealings. One of the final unregulated marketplaces on the planet, the world of foreign exchange, also referred to as “forex”, remains largely out of sight and is primarily managed by traders who have been given a variety of buy and sell orders on behalf of larger global companies.

According to recent allegations, it is believed that 15 major banks have now been involved in forex currency manipulation. 9 of those listed have now suspended or fired forex traders that had previously been working for them. That being said, the extent to which the Osborne and his team of UK-based watchdogs can invoke change is somewhat limited, due in large part to the fact that the forex market remains a global enterprise, largely out of reach of any one nation. While Osborne’s changes may serve to “clean up” his particular “neck of the woods”, it is highly doubtful that his actions will have any lasting impact on the forex industry as a whole.

Of additional concern for Osborne is the potential fallout that could occur before key elections in 2015. Were hefty fines to be levied against UK companies in upcoming months, rival parties could accuse him of failing to act responsibly and ensure the validity and legitimacy of one of London’s most dominant industries. It should, ultimately, come as no surprise that these attempts at regulation are now occurring.

A political move, or perhaps an honest attempt at repairing a fractured industry, Osborne is nonetheless making bold moves into a well-established, highly organised industry that has relied upon its decentralized nature to exchange trillions of pounds of currency to companies around the world over the past decade. It will be interesting to see what, if any, “progress” Osborne can make.

GBP EUR USD AUD Foreign Exchange Rate Forecasts & Predictions June 2014

The world of foreign exchange (forex) trading is arguably one of the most complex and nuanced financial marketplaces on the planet. Featuring an array of finely tuned pricing mechanisms and intricate arrangements, the process by which currencies lose or gain value relative to one another has become a trillion dollar industry.

Market analysts have released their exchange rate predictions for the month of June, and their assertions seem to coincide directly with recent announcements in key nations around the world.

The British Pound Sterling has made further gains, expanding its competitive edge on international currencies due in large part to recent announcements that manufacturing data has demonstrated healthy growth. Although the Bank of England’s recent statements on monetary policy are causing some to worry that the price rally being experienced by the Pound Sterling is only temporary, analysts are recommended a neutral to positive outlook on this particular currency.

Similar successes cannot be claimed by the Euro Dollar, which has suffered slightly due to recent revelations that the ECB might continue to reduce interest rates, further driving down the value of this already beleaguered currency. Combined with disappointing manufacturing news, the Euro is believed to currently be in a period of decline. Analysts have adopted a negative outlook on this particular currency.

The US Dollar’s positive manufacturing reports will most likely keep this currency within previously established ranges compared to the Pound Sterling. That being said, the recent Michigan sentiment index is largely negative, potentially undercutting any positive outlook nurtured by the overall manufacturing report. Analysts currently believe that the US Dollar sits at a neutral to positive outlook.

The Australian Dollar has been impaired slightly by recent reports illustrating weak domestic building numbers. Because of this, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank of Australia will move to strengthen the national currency using an interest rate hike. According to analysts, the Australian dollar currently sits at a neutral to negative outlook.

Overall, the assertion could be made that the “threat” of volatility in the forex marketplace will be greatly enhanced or reduced by policies currently being decided upon in Europe and Australia. That being said, many of the world’s major currencies stand to benefit from any sign of weakness in these aforementioned economies.

Foreign Exchange Latest – Dollar gains as GBP nears 9-month lows

Although tensions remain high in the Middle East and Ukraine, the US Dollar is slowly pushing back, regaining critical lost ground against the British Sterling and Euro Dollar. Although a variety of 2014 peaks have already been met and exceeded, many experts are in agreement that the US Dollar will need a fresh and compelling impetus to continue its ascent. That being said, an increased in value of USD may comes as a result of international pressure on the EU as opposed to substantive gains on a domestic level.

The US is currently enmeshed in a variety of international conflicts that are causing many to re-assess their investments in the national currency. As Iraq continues to slip further into conflict and the ISIS militant group increases their volume of highly visible, violent demonstrations, many are left wondering what the full extent of US involvement in this conflict will be.

Meanwhile, the ongoing drama between Russia and the Ukraine is producing worldwide hesitation and fear, particularly in financial circles. Recent sanctions placed against the Russian nation are expected to result in an increase in pressure on the Euro Dollar, which, until recently, has been trading at nine-month lows. Although the EU has officially emerged from the devastating recession of recent years, the economic landscape of this region remains quite fragile. Whether or not the EU will be able to reassert their validity in the FX exchanges in the upcoming days and weeks has yet to be seen. Were the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to continue to escalate, it is highly likely that the EU Dollar will experience large price swings.

The GBP has also been experiencing its fair share of suffering, due largely to its association with the EU. For US travelers, this couldn’t come at a better time, as trips abroad will prove to be much more affordable than they would have been otherwise due to a strong US dollar.

As is common with FX trading, the volatile combination of international events taking place on a regular basis can quickly destabilize and reshape short-term expectations. Depending upon upcoming actions taken by the US Government, many believe that the US dollar is poised for increased volatility.

“To say FX Volatility is Low is an Understatement”

to put the current “tranquil” state of the FX markets in context, it’s necessary to look back in history…way back. The stability of the US Dollar against the Japanese Yen that is being observed in FX exchanges today has not been seen since 1977. Using a variety of proxy modelling techniques, it could also be stated that the Euro Dollar has not been this tame since 1979.

Although many would view these observations as simply part of a larger pattern occurring in the international economy, the actual data points to something else entirely. According to George Saravelos, a currencies analyst at Deutsche Bank, “The decline in currency volatility is unusual compared to other asset classes.”

So, what could be the cause of this unique situation? Analysts agree that current economic conditions would not promote this level of stability. In fact, both the S&P 500 and 10-year US Bonds are experiencing over a 1% increase in volatility when compared to levels witnessed in the early 1990’s. Following the “taper tantrum” that occurred last summer, as well as a variety of unexpected policy surprises coming from the ECB, it seemed reasonable to assume that volatility would shake up for the FX markets for a reasonable amount of time.

One possible explanation for the placid nature of the currency markets could be a shrinking gap between buy and sell prices due to increasing competition and ever more powerful FX trading technology. This year alone, the buy and sell spread for FX exchanges at large was reduced by 20%. As automation and complex algorithms take over the marketplace, some say, it is inevitable that stability will slowly embed itself within the infrastructure of the FX markets.

Another possible theory points to the growing shift towards electronic trading platforms as opposed to traditional inter-bank voice trading. This shift is not just relegated to the FX markets. Following recent changes outlined by Dodd-Frank, many of the asset classes within the US fixed income market are also being transformed and revolutionized by electronic trading systems.

FX traders shouldn’t be overly worried that the glory days of foreign exchange are over. That being said, some experts are saying that the highs experienced earlier this year may not return for quite a while. According to Saravelos, this unheard of stability, “is also a warning shot on the impact that technology and regulation can have on other asset classes as competition and the market mature.”

Global Concerns Eased Surrounding AUD/USD

It’s common knowledge that the volatile dynamics of international politics and conflicts have serious repercussions on the FX markets. In recent months, the upsurge in geopolitical tension between Russia and the Ukraine, as well as US military intervention in Iraq against the ISIS militant group, have resulted in a series of substantial price swings of the US dollar, the EU Dollar and the GBP. The EU Dollar recently retreated to a nine-month low, due largely to its inability to withstand investor scrutiny in light of Russia’s aggressive moves. As could be expected, the GBP shed value in tandem with the EU Dollar.

Optimism, however, isn’t far off. Although the US Dollar declined in value following the initiation of airstrikes in Iraq, prices have not been significantly affected. A recent, temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel has also helped provide a small level of comfort and reassurance for those assessing their positions in the US Dollar.

That being said, tensions have yet to fully abate in Easter Europe, where the Russian military remains poised to launch a series of devastating strikes against Ukraine. The sanctions levied against Russia have served as a moderately effective deterrent against Putin’s militaristic endeavours, although no formal withdrawal has occurred as of yet. Although Russian governmental representatives have declared that the military exercises they had undertaken near the border with Ukraine were now over, investors remain somewhat cautious.

The Australian Dollar recently dropped to two-month lows against the US Dollar. This decline is largely due to statements by the Reserve Bank of Australia declaring its intentions to cut growth and inflation forecasts while, simultaneously, keeping interest rates stationary.

As is becoming increasingly common, however, even the most informed of predictions can change substantially when global dynamics are as volatile as they currently are. Although the recent Ebola outbreak has yet to produce any substantial head-waves in the FX markets, any indications that the deadly virus had established its presence in Europe may also exacerbate existing volatility. Yet again, only time will tell if such issues will transform into pressing concerns requiring immediate attention.

It is likely that the vast majority of international investors will remain intently focused on current events until these substantial global conflicts reach some level of long-term resolution.

Is the Bitcoin Boom Over for Mining Software Providers?

When the Bitcoin hype machine tapers down, two potentially dangerous actions occur: 1.) people stop investing in the coin, which, given the absolute need for early-stage adoption, is causing significant hurdles for traders and investors alike, and 2.) Bitcoin miners stop mining Bitcoin due to a substantially decreased profit margin. Given the fact that the successful operation of the Bitcoin platform relies upon the miners to enable the transaction verification platform, commonly referred to as the Blockchain, a lack of miners means more than just a general loss of interest in this notorious alt-coin; it could mean the end of the entire operation.

It’s also important to remember that the process of mining bitcoin becomes inherently more difficult and cost ineffective as more coins are placed into circulation. The massive spike in Bitcoin miners in recent months has served to drive the operating expenses of competitive Bitcoin miners much higher than they ever could have imagined. As more and more hardware is required to mine Bitcoins, even the most experienced miners have begun to wince at the expenses they are incurring, especially as the price of Bitcoin continues to fall.

Ultimately, there are essentially two viewpoints one can adopt when discussing the current Bitcoin trends with an eye towards predicting the future. As there really exists no discernible trend or precedent for a product or idea such as Bitcoin, even on the most advanced bureau de change software available today, it’s anyone’s guess as to what exactly will happen. The coin will either flourish…or it won’t. In order for Bitcoin to remain a trending topic, however, Bitcoin miners are going to need to get excited about mining yet again. This, truly, is the first step towards keeping the Bitcoin operation in the running for status as a revolutionary product.

Is the Bitcoin boom over? It very well could be. Numerous experts have already proclaimed that the coin will be virtually worthless in coming months. As with all things revolutionary, however, a “wait and see” approach may be the best available. One thing is for sure, however: Bitcoin has dramatically redefined how we think of payment, currency, and bureau de change software in the 21st century, and that in itself is a commendable feat.

Bitcoin can be “the Internet of money” says Google Analyst

Google analyst Andy Yee is the latest to wade into the bitcoin regulation debate, concluding that any legal framework should be based on an “adaptive” approach.

Politicians and policy makers alike have expressed concerns about bitcoin’s lack of regulation.

Yee has proposed that rules should apply to services that actually handle money as opposed to those that create the digital currency software. He wrote:

“The logical and user layers are populated by private actors from the bitcoin community and real economy respectively. These actors are small and can easily escape from regulation and enforcement. At the information layer, intermediaries of various kinds have emerged to bridge the two networks. Their position in the Internet architecture enables them to capture information flows and identify wrongdoers. In addition, they are larger and more established actors, making them more amenable to state regulation.”

In his article for Internet Policy Review, Yee suggested using similar laws and rules to those already used to regulate financial companies:

“These laws and regulations of general applicability can in theory be applied to the emerging non-financial, information-based companies in the bitcoin economy. But a balance needs to be struck between eliminating instances of gatekeeper-aided wrongdoings and avoiding excessive burdens on gatekeepers.”

When addressing the issue of criminal useage, Yee wrote:

“Criminals need to go through intermediaries in this layer to exchange between the bitcoin and real economies. As a result, these exchange mediums collect and retain significant amounts of information, which can be utilised by law enforcement to detect money laundering and the underlying criminal activity.”

In other words, at some point the criminals will want to transfer their bitcoin currency into recognisable money and it is at this stage that they can be caught.

Various Google employees have voiced their opinion’s about bitcoin. Its Chief Economist Hal Varian has been quoted as saying: “I think something like this technology will take hold in the future but I am not particularly optimistic about bitcoin because it suffers from being the first in the area.”

Meanwhile, earlier this year, Google’s Director of Ideas, Jared Cohen, declared that bitcoin was “inevitable”.

Here in the UK the European Banking authority has advised that European banks should not deal in virtual currencies until a regulatory system had been developed.

We shall continue to monitor developments…

LeftoverForeign Currency? Here’s What You Can Do With It

After the summer holidays have come to a close, many individuals around the world are left with a handful of wonderful memories and an equally large handful of foreign currency from their travels abroad. Although these exotic currency pieces may prove to be a delightful memento of the previous adventure, many people are left wondering what they can do to reap the value of the money they have brought back with them.

One of the most obvious solutions is simply to take the money back to a currency exchange broker and swap it for domestic currency. That being said, it’s important to evaluate exchange rates closely, just as you did during your time abroad, in order to ensure that you get the best deals possible on the money you are returning. Some experts recommend grouping large sums of foreign currency (if you traveled with friends, for example), and exchanging all of this money at one time, as it is likely that you will all receive a more optimal exchange rate.

It’s also worth noting that some foreign exchange brokers offer a “buy-back” option on leftover currency that will ensure that you receive the equal value (according to current exchange rates, obviously) without losing money in exchange fees. Although these services are much harder to find, it may be worth spending time before your trip researching available buy-back options in your area so that you know exactly who to purchase your currency with initially.

A final option may be to simply hold onto the money you’ve brought back, particularly if you are planning on traveling abroad again soon. Instead of losing fractional amounts of currency with each trade, you can simply keep the money in one currency pair and use it again when you resume your travels at a later point. This is especially recommended for business professionals and other individuals who find themselves “on the go” at regular intervals!

There are, obviously, no perfect solutions for this issue, but with a bit of creative, flexible thinking, you can ensure that you emerge victorious in the battle of the exchange rates. Good luck!

Pound will hold up against Dollar – Unless Scotland votes ‘yes’

Over the course of the past few months, it’s been readily apparent that volatility in the FX markets has become practically non-existent. Although brief swings have been seen due to tensions between Russian and Ukraine, as well as the United States and the Islamic militants in Iraq, prices have remained largely stable. Although some traders are predicting devastating fluctuations due to tensions within the UK regarding the possibility of an independent Scotland, others believe that the Pound will stay on solid ground. That is, of course, unless the UK is broken up by a majority “yes” in the upcoming vote.

The value of the Pound is largely created by the collaboration of the various political entities within the United Kingdom, including England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If any one of these entities were to leave the UK, it seems likely that, at least over the short-term, the value of the Pound would take a hit. When asked to discuss this particular issue, Kit Juckes, a currency strategist with Societe Generale, said that, “The more divided the UK is, the weaker the pound will be…”Sterling’s correction to date has far more to do with the UK rate rethink than anything else, and there is very little political risk premium in the pricing – yet”

Other possible catalysts of price fluctuation could occur in the early months of 2015, when the Bank of England is planning on raising interest rates, the first move of its kind by any nation in recent years. That being said, it is expected that the Federal Reserve of the United States will follow up with a similar move shortly thereafter. The Federal Reserve has indicated that their strategy remains to implement a very slow, gradual increase of rates in order to ensure that the US economy, which is now developing on a much firmer footing, does not get sidetracked.

Regardless of what potential outcomes may occur, it seems likely that the rather lengthy slumber the FX markets have been in may come to an end shortly, which, for many traders, is welcome news.

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