Poloniex Altcoin Exchange Review

Poloniex Certainly Has Its Merits

Poloniex is by far the superior altcoin exchange, base don trading volume and the number of users. The customer support is its Achilles heel, though, and the verification procedure can take longer than needed. Moreover, a few recent server and API outages have caused a fair bit of issues.In this day and age of cryptocurrency exchanges struggling with their partnering banks, the number of platforms unaffected by issues are fairly limited. So far, the Poloniex exchange has successfully avoided most problems, which allows them to continue generating significant amounts of trading volume. They are also the premier cryptocurrency exchange for altcoins traders, but is everything as good as people want the world to believe?

Trading on a cryptocurrency exchange is always a matter of positive aspects and compromises. For the Poloniex exchange, it appears the benefits far outweigh the downsides as of right now. They list a good amount of alternative cryptocurrencies and also actively remove trading pairs that are no longer relevant. Poloniex is also offering multiple exchange markets, including Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum. Alternative trading markets are always interesting to take notice of, even though not all coins can be traded against these three currencies.

Poloniex has been around for some time now and even underwent a major overhaul in early 2015. Ever since that time, some notable features were added, including cryptocurrency lending. Speaking of the lending service, not all supported coins are listed here either, but it does cover the most prominent currencies as of right now. It is a useful feature for traders who want to earn a passive interest on their Poloniex balances, although one should never store too much money on an exchange in the first place.

On the security front,

Poloniex seems to check the right boxes as well. Two-factor authentication is possible – and advised – which is a positive touch. Then again, nearly every cryptocurrency exchange offers this feature, as 2FA has become somewhat of the norm in the crypto world right now. Volume-wise, Poloniex seems to generate a fair amount of revenue every single day, as it is way ahead of its closest competitor Bittrex.

Unfortunately, no cryptocurrency exchange is without its issues, and Poloniex is no exception. The platform has suffered from slow trading, order book issues and even plain outages every time there is an unusually high trading activity on the exchange. Most recently, the site and its API utterly crashed when Ripple was seeing significant trading volume all of a sudden. This affected quite a lot of traders and a fair bit of money was lost due to trades not executing properly.

Moreover, some users have complained about horrible customer support from Poloniex staffers. Exchanges have a big problem in this regard, as it appears a lot of platforms suffer from bad customer support at all times. That is not acceptable by any means, and we can only hope things improve sooner rather than later.  Especially considering how the platform supports fiat currency support, aiding customers in a quick and convenient manner becomes even more important.

Speaking of support,

Poloniex conducts a thorough AML and KYC procedure for all users, even if they do not deposit or withdraw fiat currencies. This means users will need to upload documents to verify their identity, a process that can take days, if not weeks, for some users. It seems evident everyone’s mileage will vary when dealing with the Poloniex exchange. For the most part, the company does the job just fine, but there are obvious areas that need improvements.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

ETHBITS Gets Green Light for New Copy Trading Cryptocurrency Exchange

  

Cryptocurrency exchange provider Ethbits

has reached it’s minimum funding goal signalling that development on a new iTrade platform will now begin. The UK-based company has already built a peer to peer Cryptocurrency exchange, called Ethbits Local, to facilitate secure trades between people from bank accounts to cryptocurrency. Ethbits Local will offer the ability to trade face-to-face across a range of cryptocurrencies, a unique feature that is in high demand.

Given the current success of the crowdsale, Ethbits Local will now start development of Ethbits iTrade, an exciting new cryptocurrency exchange which will not only act as a standard exchange but also has a copy trade feature, where new traders can copy professionals and experienced traders can gain followers to maximise their profits. Ethbits Local will launch in May, immediately after the crowdsale ends followed closely by iTrade.

‘Reaching our Minimum goal within the 1st week is super exciting, as a result the copy trading exchange is now in development. We are at the start of something ground breaking in the crypto world and the more support we can get, the faster we can grow and the more rewards we can generate for the token holders. We will now implement provably fair profit sharing to ensure the continued confidence in our company.’  Monty Singh, CEO, Ethbits LIMITED

Support for the platform has been strong with 300 contributors acquiring Ethbits (ETB) tokens. ETB gives the holder access to up to 40% of gross profit from trading fees, depending on how much is raised by the end of the crowdsale. ETB tokens can also be used to pay for transaction fees on the exchange ensuring the volume of the token remains a high as possible, driving both of the platforms. iTrade will launch with the top 15 cryptocurrencies on offer with plans to diversify further as the exchange grows.

Ethbits has just announced that it will partner with BCB ATM [https://bcb-atm.com/ ] – an expanding Bitcoin ATM service based in the UK. Ethbits iTrade platform will be linked to BCB ATM’s to help people find crypto traders in their local area. The crowdfund will run until 13th May at 5pm UTC.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

US Government Hacks Global Bank System, Necessity of Bitcoin

The US government’s ongoing extensive surveillance

on the global banking system and payment, transfers are demonstrating an urgent necessity of a decentralized financial network such as bitcoin. Over the past few months, various organizations including Wikileaks and Shadow Brokers have exploited most of the malpractices of the National Security Agency of the US. One of the recent tools of the NSA that was leaked and exploited on the dark web was the NSA’s surveillance tool on the Swift global banking system.

Motive of the US Government

Government agencies and law enforcement are required to undergo a lengthy process of filing a complaint and request to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift) in order to gain necessary financial information of certain bank accounts of businesses and individuals.

With a surveillance and hacking tool, however, the NSA can surpass the above-mentioned process by simply gaining access to the actual Swift network without alarming its system and infrastructure. According to representatives of Shadow Brokers, a hacking group that has leaked many pieces of malware in the past, the hacking tool of the NSA allows the US government to surveil financial transactions settled within the Swift network with full transparency. Matt Suiche, founder of the United Arab Emirates-based cyber security firm Comae Technologies, said in an interview with Reuters:

“If you hack the service bureau, it means that you also have access to all of their clients, all of the banks.”

While some security analysts and firms including EastNets denied the claims of Shadow Brokers, prominent whistleblowers and security experts including Edward Snowden explained that if the exploitation of the NSA hacking tool by the security firm Shadow Brokers is in fact, true, it could be described as the “Mother of All Exploits.” In the meantime, Swift announced that its cyber security and research team were not able to find any evidence to conclusively determine the surveillance allegation against the US government.

“We have no evidence to suggest that there has ever been any unauthorized access to our network or messaging services,” said the representatives of Swift.

Necessity of Bitcoin

Whether the US government actually utilized the NSA’s hacking tool to surveil the Swift network without permission from Swift and its clients is not the major issue. The main problem is that such hacking tools exist and they are capable of unraveling transactions settled across the world. Any centralized financial networks such as Swift impose such vulnerability, as any network, server or database connected to the Internet is vulnerable to hacking attacks, surveillance and data breaches if it is not designed to be immutable or decentralized, unlike bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Each transaction on the bitcoin blockchain is identified with cryptographic proof and it can be accessed on the bitcoin blockchain. Most importantly, because the bitcoin blockchain is public, it cannot be manipulated by a government agency like the NSA with sophisticated hacking tools. Although there exists strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer systems in place on the majority of the world’s bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges, government agencies and law enforcement agents must go through proper channels to obtain the data.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Bitcoin Is Not Immune to
All Fiat Problems

Bitcoin inspires hope among many of its owners,

investors, and users. Its culture is deeply steeped in the hopes of “being your own bank” and not having to rely on third parties such as government and financial institutions to guarantee, protect, and transfer your wealth. However, while I love Bitcoin and want to believe in these sort of ideas as well, more and more I feel like Bitcoin may suffer some very similar problems that fiat economies have.

The Problem of Wealth Disparity

This is one of the most troubling aspects of Bitcoin that I can think of. We’re approaching having mined into existence about 80 percent of the 21 Million Bitcoin hard limit. Even though that limit will not be hit until about 2140 well beyond my and everyone reading this article’s death -barring some insane medical advancements-, the percentage of new coins that will be made available will be lower and lower. I do not think that I am the only one who thinks that Bitcoin’s price will continue to explode as the available supply dwindles either. That is where the heart of this problem may be for me: Larger concentrations of coins will be in the hands of fewer people.

I believe that the individuals who have the fortitude and insight to be hodling onto their coins deserve to be rewarded for their risk. It is also my hope that I am hodling more coins if/when the price skyrockets. This will create Bitcoin oligarchs though. Those who bought in or mined early will become immensely wealthy and powerful. Regardless of good intention, the concentration of power like that historically has not worked out well. We also see large wealth disparity in our world today -which is still mostly dealing in fiats- and the levels of civil unrest that it engenders. I think that Bitcoin may share this problem and may even have it worse considering how low the population of Bitcoin users is.

The Issue of Centralized Institutions

Miners are necessary for processing transactions and bringing new coins into the economy. However, the increasing difficulty of blocks and the insatiable thirst for electricity creates situations where only large mining farms and pools are even able to put up the hash rates needed to grab those blocks. This is centralized. I’m far from the first person to realize or point this out, but it does mean that the Bitcoin network is starting to form these sorts of things it meant to free us from. We’re trending toward having very few holding the (metaphorical) keys to the coins. As reward halving continues, even more of these pools and farms will shut down, again leading to even more centralization of the network. It would lead us closer to a system not too far from what we have today.

A Problem Unique to Bitcoin

While Bitcoin has many similar problems to the current prevailing financial systems it also has a very unique in Lost Coins. This is when a wallet private key is lost and the coins in that wallet are unable to be accessed, even by the owner. While projects like the Large Bitcoin Collider may be looking for ways of cracking keys, it is generally agreed that these coins are gone until the private key is found or remembered. This adds a dynamic to Bitcoin that Banks and Governments do not really have: hard deflation. Governments and banks can always print more money. Bitcoin will only have 21 Million. Ever. So any lost coins or fraction of coins will be 21 Mill minus that amount. This could even lead to a further exacerbation of the wealth disparity problem I outlined before.

Bitcoin is a radical take on what economies should look like: trustless, secure, and reliable. However, it still seems to have to address and move away from the pitfalls that our current financial system has created. To continue further without trying to address these would be foolish in my opinion.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Georgia Records 100,000 Land Titles on Bitcoin Blockchain: BitFury

  

Georgian government and the Bitcoin company BitFury

In April 2016, the Georgian government and the Bitcoin company BitFury initiated a project to record land titles on the Blockchain. Following the project initiation, on Feb. 7th, 2017, in Tbilisi, the government of Georgia signed an agreement to use the Bitcoin Blockchain to verify property transactions.

And on 19th of April 2017, Valery Vavilov, CEO of BitFury during his speech at the Russian Internet Forum in Moscow, said, that since the launch in February 2017, when his company along with the government of the Republic of Georgia implemented the property registration on Blockchain had registered more than 100,000 documents.

Earlier this year, Tomicah Tillemann, Trust Accelerator co-founder and New America director of the Bretton Woods II program, commented about Georgia’s decision to use the public Bitcoin Blockchain:

“If you think about this happening at a time when a lot of people are struggling to separate what’s real from what’s fake, this is a powerful tool to prove what’s real. Especially when you’re dealing with something as fundamental as your home or property, it’s important to have that added layer of security that’s provided by Blockchain validation.”

Vavilov also said, that there is going to be more services to follow. Since Blockchain implementation, there is no possibility to manipulate the property registration data. It is not only a government implementation deal for BitFury, on April 13, the Bitfury Group has announced its partnership with the government of Ukraine, to bring a variety of Blockchain solutions to the electronic services of the latter.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

SEO Made Simple:
A Step-by-Step Guide

  

Guess how many blog posts are published each day.

Any ideas? Over 2 million. That means 46 people have pressed publish by the time you read these 4 sentences. This makes it kinda tough to stand out. But you have to, if you want to make your blog a successful one, that is. While I often spend 4-5 hours on writing my blog posts, the 10 minutes I spend optimizing each post are easily the most important.

No wonder millions of people google the term “SEO” each month. In a world where over 90% of online experiences start with a search engine, showing up on the front page of Google can be the deciding factor between a business that’s thriving and one that’s, well, bankrupt. But what does SEO even mean? Sure, you know that it stands for search engine optimization, but what gets optimized? Is it the design? Or the writing? The links maybe? Yes, yes and yes. It’s all of them and more. But let’s start this SEO guide at the beginning.

Definition

According to Wikipedia, SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results”  Alright, let’s translate that to English. Here’s my go at it: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content, so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.

Let me break that down even further: There’s you, doing the SEO, the search engine and the searcher. If you have an article about how to make vegan lasagna, you want the search engine (which, in 90% of all cases, is Google), to show it as a top result to anyone who searches for the phrase “vegan lasagna.” SEO is the magic you have to work on your article, in order to make Google very likely to include your article as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.

Overview

Now what does that magic look like and why does it even matter? 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, 68% of which use Google to do so. Combine that with the fact that the first 5 results in Google get 67% of all clicks, and you get an idea of why search engine optimization is so important. There’s a joke going around the web that highlights how crucial it is to hit the first page of Google: If you ever need to hide a dead body, you should place it on the second page of Google search results.

Your blog post, article or product being linked on any other page of the Google search results than the first is equivalent to not being ranked at all.

But to understand how to show up first in the search engine results, you first need to know how search even works. How Search Works: Now that you have an idea of the basics of SEO, I’ll take a look at some of its components in detail. While Google guards their search algorithm pretty well and not all of the over 200 determining factors are known and verified, Backlinko did a great job of compiling as many as possible of them into one big list. But first, I need to get one thing straight. There are 2 sides of the SEO force, and you need to choose yours, right now.

White Hat vs. Black Hat

As you know, I’m playing the long-term entrepreneurial game, instead of just trying to get a quick buck out of it. It’s the same with search engine optimization. Some people are in it to make a few grand really quickly, others are in it for the long haul.

If you want to work SEO like a get-rich-quick scheme, you’ll probably end up doing what’s called black hat SEO.

This type of SEO focuses on optimizing your content only for the search engine, not considering humans at all. Since there are lots of ways to bend and break the rules to get your sites to rank high, these are a welcome way for black hat SEOs to make a few thousand dollars fast. Ultimately this approach results in spammy, crappy pages, which often get banned very fast, often leading to severe punishment for the marketer, ruining their chance of building something sustainable in the future. You might make a few grand this way but will continuously have to be on the lookout for search engine updates and come up with new ways to dodge the rules.

White hat SEO, on the other hand, is the way to build a sustainable online business.

If you do SEO this way, you’ll focus on your human audience, trying to give them the best content possible and making it easily accessible to them, by playing according to the search engine’s rules. (Inbound Marketing Inc. does a great job at explaining the difference) Needless to say, you’ll only hear and see me talking about white hat SEO. Choose your side of the force wisely, young Padawan.

Cleaning inside your house and outside: On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO

There are 2 broader categories of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.  On-page SEO concerns all of Google’s ranking factors that are determined by directly looking at the page you try to optimize, such as headlines, content and page structure. Off-page SEO refers to all variables Google takes a look at, which are not exclusively in your own hands, but depend on other sources, such as social networks, other blogs in your industry and the personal history of the searcher.

They’re different, but you need to get both right, in order to do well with SEO. To give you a better idea of what that means, here’s an example:

Let’s say you have a house with a garden in the front yard, and a little pathway, that leads through your front yard to your house. Imagine these two scenarios:

Scenario #1: Your house is super clean on the inside, but your front yard is a mess.

What happens in this scenario? Well, even if you have the cleanest Mary Poppins-style looking house on the inside, if your garden looks like the forest from Sleeping Beauty, no one will come in in the first place.It’s the same if your page is super optimized around on-page SEO, has great content and looks stunning, but no one gives you credit for it or points to your page. No one will ever see your beautiful masterpiece, because you won’t get any traffic. What about the other way around?

Scenario #2: Your front lawn is neatly trimmed, but inside your house is a mess.

Turn things around and they look similar: Having a neatly mowed lawn will attract plenty of people to come visit your house, but if your living room reminds your guests of a war zone, they’ll leave quicker than you can pronounce SEO. When a visitor leaves your site after viewing only one page, in Google’s eyes that visitor is considered as a bounce. The higher your bounce rate (=number of visitors who leave your site instantly), the worse your page will rank in Google.

That’s why you need to do both on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

You can do several things on your page to get the former right and then even more things outside of that (off the page if you will) to ace the latter. We’ll take a look at on-page SEO first.

On-Page SEO

There are big categories in on-page SEO, that you’ll need to take a look at. The first and most important, is content.

Content

You’ve probably heard it before: “Content is king.” Bill Gates made this prediction in 1996 and it’s as true as ever today.

(here’s the original article by Bill Gates)

Why? Because a Google search engine customer is happy when he finds the result that serves his needs in the best way.

When you Google “quick and easy homemade mac and cheese,” Google will put all its energy into delivering to you what Google believes is the best recipe for homemade mac and cheese (that takes little time and uses few ingredients) on the entire web. It doesn’t look for the quickest recipe, the easiest recipe, or throw out a bunch of online shops for frozen dinners. Google always tries to give you the best possible experience by directing you to the greatest content it can find.

This means your number one job, to do well with SEO, is to produce great content. Bummer, right? You still have to put in a ton of work. SEO is no different than any other skill – the great results will always come from big effort. Just like the best marketing in the world won’t help you sell a bad product, super advanced SEO will be useless if you’re content plain sucks. Here are the factors that make up great content in Google’s eyes:

Quality

While the times where just delivering the best quality content would make you stand out from the crowd are long gone, it is still the starting point for any successful SEO effort (and online business, really). But coming up with great content is not easy, after all, it means you have to become a teacher and a good one at that. Yet, you don’t have to start from scratch. Okdork has published a great guide on how to create great content by piggybacking on what others have done.

Maybe you have your own ideas already, then it might be worth to brainstorm for a while and then come up with a compelling headline to start out with. Once you start writing, make sure you include all the important ingredients of great content in your blog post. Even if you’re a complete newbie, you can always take a professional approach to great content by simply committing to making writing a daily habit and work your way up in increments from there.

Keyword research

Doing your keyword research up front is a crucial part of great content. Since you ideally want to include your targeted keyword in your post’s headline and throughout the article, you need to choose your keyword before starting to write. I’ve covered keyword research extensively on Quicksprout, but if you’ve never done keyword research before, you might want to take a look at Hubspot’s guide for beginners.

Out of all on-page SEO factors, this is the one you should spend the most time learning. You don’t even need to buy a book, Backlinko’s definitive guide to keyword research will do. When I say don’t sleep on this, I mean it. There’s a reason we took the time to compile the top 40 posts on keyword research on KISSmetrics.

Use of keywords

Google has gotten smarter over the years. While you should, of course, use your keyword throughout your content, jamming your keyword into your text as much as possible will hurt your rankings, rather than improve them. Keyword stuffing is an absolute no-go these days.

In 2015, the use of keywords is much more about semantics. Google has gotten so good at interpreting the meaning of the keywords that searchers use, it’s creepy. It not only looks at your keyword but also synonyms of it, to understand what you mean when you type in, say “five guys nyc”. Google will know that you’re probably not looking for 5 random males, but rather guesses that you’re looking for the fast food chain “Five Guys, Burgers & Fries” by looking at similar searches that may include the keywords “burgers” and “fries.”

As long as you make sure your keyword is present in strategically important places (like headlines, URL and meta description), there is no need to mention it tons of times in your text. Just focus on the reader and seamlessly integrate your keyword a few times.

Freshness of content

Hubspot has done a benchmark this year that showed, once again, that posting more frequently improves Google rankings. However, posting new content is only one way to signal Google freshness. There are plenty of things that you can do with already published content to make it more up-to-date. Brian Dean from Backlinko, for example, has only published around 30 posts in 2 years. Yet, he keeps all of his posts up to date by rewriting them and adding new information as he finds it. While it is important to publish regularly, you can still get great results with posting once a month, as long as your content is thorough and in-depth.

Direct answers

Finally, one of the more recent updates provides searchers with direct answers. If your content is written clearly enough for Google to recognize it as an answer to a particular question, it will show up directly beneath the search bar. Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s spam team and often public voice for the latest in SEO and algorithm changes, announced last year that people who were cutting the jargon would be right on track.

That’s why detailed guides and long how-to’s  have become more and more popular. So make sure you clear up your writing, fancy buzzwords and complex sentence constructions will neither make you sound smart nor help your SEO game. Moz has listed out all critical aspects you have to keep in mind, if you want to do well with direct answers.

HTML

The next big chunk you have to take care of, once you’ve made sure your content is evergreen, is HTML. You don’t have to be a professional coder or get a degree in programming by any means.  But, running an online business without knowing the basics of HTML would be the same as driving without knowing what the colors of traffic lights mean.

Thankfully, with places like Codecademy or Khan Academy, there are more than enough possibilities to learn everything about HTML that you need in the blink of an eye and for free. Heck, you can even learn it on the job, by just using a simple cheat sheet, like this one. Let’s take a look at the 4 parts of HTML you should optimize for each and every single piece of content you produce.

Title tags

Title tags are the online equivalent of newspaper headlines. They are what shows up in the tab of your browser when you open a new page. The HTML tag used for them is called title, but in the case of blogs, it often becomes an h1-tag, which stands for the heading of the first order. Every page should only have one h1-tag to make the title clear to Google. We’ve shown you how to do this at Quicksprout University, but the website First Page Sage has compiled a few more things that you can do to get these right.

Meta description

Meta descriptions are what shows up as an excerpt when Google displays your page as a result to searchers. It’s easy to spot who’s done their SEO homework and who hasn’t by the meta description. Optimized meta description results will never be cut off and end with “…” or seem like they end mid-sentence. They also often mention their keyword up front. You can learn how to come up with great meta tags in Quicksprout University, and should also check out some good examples to get a feel for descriptions. Don’t overthink this 160 character text snippet though. When writing it, you should keep the searchers in mind, much more so than the search engines.

Schema

Schema is the result of a collaboration of several search engines and is basically just a subset of specific HTML tags, which will improve the way your content is displayed on the search engine result pages (also called SERPs). The rating from the above example with Bitcoin was created using Schema, for example. It’s a rather small factor, but definitely good practice. Moz has some good tips on how to get the most out of Schema. When you’re done, don’t forget to test your page to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Subheads

I’ve previously identified subheads as one of the 7 things every great landing page needs. Not only do they help format and structure your content and give your readers easy reference points, but they also affect SEO. Compared to your h1-tags, h2, h3, h4 and further subheads have less SEO power, but still, matter and should therefore, be used. Plus it’s one of the easiest SEO wins you can get in WordPress.

3. Architecture

The third and last part of on-page SEO, that I’ll cover, is site architecture. While this part gets super-techy, super fast, there are a few simple things everyone can and should take care of, to improve SEO rankings. A good website architecture leads to a great experience for the user when he navigates your page, through things such as fast loading times, a safe connection and a mobile-friendly design.

Ideally, you’ll map out the architecture of your site before even buying the domain, which allows you to really get into the head of your user and reverse engineer your way to a great user experience (UX). ConversionXL has published a great guide on how to make sure your UX rocks. You also need to optimize a few things in order for a great “search engine experience.” The more accessible your website is to Google, the better it will rank.

Easy to crawl

Remember the spiders from the introductory video? These are the programs that “crawl” from one page on your site to the next through links. Depending on how well they can index all the pages on your site, they’ll be more likely to report back to Google that you are a good result. The thicker the web of links between pages of your site, the easier it is for the spiders to reach all of them, giving the search engine a better understanding of your site. You can make this job easier for Google by creating a sitemap, using a simple plugin if you’re on WordPress or an online XML sitemap generator.

Duplicate content

There are a lot of myths ranking around duplicate content, and how it hurts your rankings. A common mistake is to think everything on your page should be original. Re-posting your content on other websites or publishing your guest posts again on your own site, doesn’t hurt your SEO, unless you do it the wrong (spammy) way. For example, if you re-post your exact same content to a big outlet like Medium, it might hurt your rankings, because Google indexes your Medium article first, as it’s on the more authoritative domain. In order to make sure you don’t get penalized, educate yourself about 301 redirects, which are a great way to handle duplicate content. I’ve also put together a guide to show you how to address the issue with rel=canonical tags for links on Quicksprout.

Mobile-friendliness

Let’s face it, if your page isn’t mobile-friendly, you lost. Consider this: Over 500 million Facebook users (that’s half a billion, just for clarity) ONLY uses facebook through their mobile phone on a daily basis. While there are several ways to make your page mobile-friendly, I recommend you start by checking with Google’s tool how you hold up right now. Most WordPress themes are mobile-friendly from the get go these days, and if not, you can always install a plugin to take care of it. You can also just implement Google’s suggestions from the tool yourself or hire someone to make the changes.

Page speed

Don’t fool yourself, you know just how important this is. Remember how angry you were the last time the wifi took 20 seconds to load a page? Today, we value our time more than anything, and long loading times can absolutely kill your conversions. Again, Google has a tool to easily test this. Another way to see if you’re doing okay is to use this free test by Pingdom. ConversionXL has identified a few low hanging fruits for increasing your website speed and at Crazy Egg we show you how to squeeze out that extra second to improve your user experience.

Keywords in URLs

Including your targeted keywords in the URLs of your blog posts is a can’t miss. You shouldn’t squander those SEO points. You might have to change the structure of your permalinks on WordPress, and should certainly keep your human users in mind, but including your keyword in your URLs is a no brainer.

HTTPS and SSL

Google announced that security is now considered a ranking signal. There are two common security protocols: HTTPS (a secure version of HTTP) and SSL (Secure Socket Layer). Both of the works and are worth considering, even if they won’t up your SEO game too much. Moving from a non-secure connection to HTTPS or SSL is a bit of work, but worth your time. If you’re starting out with a new domain, consider purchasing it as an option from your domain registrar or web hosting service. Pro tip:  You can save a lot of on-page SEO by using a tool.  For example, if your blog is a WordPress site, Yoast SEO will help you with many of the important on-page elements we just discussed.

Off-Page SEO

Alright, time to step outside your house and take a look at the front yard. I’ll now show you 4 big areas of off-page SEO. If you want a solid overview on one page, consider looking at Shane Barker’s great infographic.

Trust

PageRank, the famous formula invented by the founders of Google is by far not the only measure they take when ranking pages in the top 10 search results. Trust is getting increasingly important and most of the recent Google updates have hit spammy and obscure websites. Trustrank is a way for Google to see whether your site is legit or not. If you look like a big brand, Google is likely to trust you, for example. Quality backlinks from authoritative sites (like .edu or .gov domains), also help. There are 4 parts to building trust.

Authority

The overall authority of your site is determined by a mix of 2 kinds of authority you can build:

  • Domain authority, which has to do with how well known your domain name is (coca-cola.com is very authoritative, for example), and
  • Page authority, which relates to how authoritative the content of a single page (for example a blog post) is.

You can check your authority here, based on a scale of 1 to 100. To improve your authority, use the cheat sheet I that came up with to increase your authority without cheating.

Bounce rate

Your bounce rate is simply a measure of how many people view only one page on your site, before immediately leaving again. Content, loading times, usability and attracting the right readers are all part of decreasing your bounce rate.  The math is simple- the right readers will spend more time on a site that loads fast, looks good and has great content, right? Video is another great way to do so, but you need your video content to stand out and deliver (Buffer’s 5-step process is a great place to get started with video).

Domain age

Remember the times before young entrepreneurs like me were all the hype? Who were the most respected businessmen around?

The old guys. The Jack Welchs and Warren Buffetts of the world.

With domains on the internet,

it’s similar. Domain age matters, if only a little. If you haven’t got your site up and running yet, consider finding an affordable, expired domain and using it.

Identity

As mentioned above, having a brand or personal identity online is a huge trust signal for search engines, but it takes time to build. You know you’re a brand when you google yourself and something like this pops up. You don’t have to have a brand name, creating your personal brand works just as well. What’s more, building brand signals prevents you from future penalties through Google updates.

2. Links

Just by how far you’re into this search engine optimization guide already shows you that the common conception of “backlinks are everything” is just wrong. hey’re only a part of SEO, just like all the other areas I covered already. There are plenty of ways to get backlinks. But, no matter what you do, don’t just wait for people to link to you, that’s a fool’s game, you’re going to have to take initiative and ask for them. Consider these factors when trying to get backlinks:

Quality of links

While links are not everything, when looking at links, their quality is everything. The quality of your links matters much more than the amount of links you have. Building quality backlinks is all about reaching out to the right sources and offering value in exchange for a solid link, and I show you tons of ways in our advanced guide to link building.

Anchor text

The anchor text is the text used when other sites link to you and yes, it matters. Differentiating between the types of anchor text is part of the nitty gritty, but a good rule of thumb is:

The more natural the link text sounds, the better.

Here’s an example: You could either link to a guide on anchor text best practices by linking the word “click here” or just naturally mentioning it in the flow of your writing. The second category is called contextual backlinks, and that’s the one you should strive for.

Number of links

Lastly, the number of total links you have does of course matter as well, and you need to over time build high quality backlinks at scale.

Personal

The third category of off-page SEO, that’s worth taking a look at, is personal factors. While most of these are out of your control, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of reaching a certain audience.

Country

All searchers are shown results relevant to the country they’re in. Open times of recommended stores and restaurants are displayed in your time zone.

(Country – it’s all about where you’re from)

Words are interpreted differently. Someone searching for “comforter” in the US will be displayed blankets for their bed, whereas someone in the UK might see pacifiers because that’s what the term means there. A way to signal Google that you want to target certain countries is of course including them as keywords, but definitely, ask yourself is it worth it to go multinational.

City

The geo-targeting goes even further, down to a city-level. That’s why, when you google any fast food chain, you are usually shown results from right around the block. Again, using city names as keywords helps, but don’t paint yourself into a corner or you’ll end up being considered as a local authority only.

Searcher’s history

If the searcher has been on the same page before or even just visited your site in general, you’re more likely to show up, because Google thinks you’re a relevant result for the searcher.

Socialization

Do you have a YouTube channel or a Google Plus profile for your brand? If so, the more people like you, the better. When google recognizes that you’ve signaled you like a brand on social networks, it’s more likely to show you results from those brands or even personal contacts you have.

Social

Lastly, let’s take a look at the social factors of off-page SEO. Besides social signals directly from the searcher, there are other ways good results on social media will help you rank better. Whether that’s directly through more links, or indirectly through a PR boost, social matters. I’ve done several case studies on Quicksprout, proving social media is well worth your time.

There are 2 main factors of influence.

Quality of shares

As with the quality of backlinks, who shares matters more than how often. Google recognizes influencers and when they share your content that share has more SEO juice than your neighbor’s. A great way to get influencers to share your content is to give them a heads up before you even publish, or still better, include them by quoting or interviewing them. Of course, you should also tell plenty of online celebrities who are already interested in your topic. You can find a similar article (maybe one you fund one during your research), plug it into a tool called Topsy, and find influencers who shared it. Then let them know you published a new piece on the same topic.

Number of shares

The secondary social metric is the number of shares. Landing a viral hit is every marketer’s dream, but it is overrated. Okdork’s guide on what it takes for an article to go viral gives you a few ideas what to optimize, but know that “going viral” is mostly a matter of consistently publishing great content. Oh, and promoting your blog post like crazy.

Conclusion

I hope this guide helped you realize that in 2017, search engine optimization isn’t optional anymore. While it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get a few basics right, it might kill your online presence if you don’t. Don’t worry if you’ve already made some SEO decisions in the past that might not have been the perfect choice. Just commit to getting started today. Do your keyword research before you write your next blog post and optimize the basics, like title tags, using your keywords and adjusting your description. And who knows – maybe the next time you press publish, you’ll stand out. After reading this guide, how will you change your attitude towards SEO?

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Business Development
For Lawyers Is Imperative

Attorneys looking for more clients should consider these four steps,
from finance columnist Michael McDonald.

   handshake shaking handsHandshake Shaking Hands

Business development is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges that any business faces in any industry. For lawyers, the problem of bringing in new clients is made more complex by multiple factors, including a stigma against advertising in the legal sector, difficulty in finding clients who can actually pay their bills, and a balkanized industry that has both cutthroat competition among small providers and a degree of tacit collusion among large providers. Add to this the lack of expertise many attorneys have in marketing or data analytics, and you have a recipe for the type of stagnancy that has afflicted large swaths of the industry for years.

The business development problem for attorneys is not new or unknown. A recent survey by litigation financing company Burford Capital showed that a full 97% of attorneys identified business development as a challenge today, versus 68% of attorneys who said the same thing in 2013.

Despite the widespread need across the industry for business development, many lawyers remain loath to use formal advertising. For example, one reputable legal partner whose 30-person practice focuses on business disputes said, “Any good attorney worth their salt does not need to advertise – if you have a good reputation, that is all you need. Advertising in law is for ambulance chasers.” That view is just one man’s perspective, of course, but it seems to epitomize the perspective of a large segment of the industry. The commonly held view seems to be that outside of accident and personal injury law, traditional advertising is unneeded. Thus, any lawyer who violates this view will likely be seen by at least a portion of peers as being inept and unable to bring in enough cases through their reputation and word of mouth alone.

The view that advertising is unnecessary is probably harmful to the industry as a whole, and of course to many individual attorneys. Advertising can serve two roles; persuasion or information provision. The information provision side of advertising is particularly valuable to attorneys. Helping to educate the general public and the business community about legal services is a useful function that ads can serve. The key for any attorney in marketing is to understand the return on investment from marketing expenditures. Unfortunately, most attorneys are not familiar with the tools and techniques used in business analytics to forecast the effectiveness of marketing spend. Data analytics remains an under-utilized tool of attorneys.

Litigation finance has sprung up as a mechanism to help deal with this. Anthony Trufelli, an executive with Bridgeway Legal Funding, notes the value of a primer his firm produces to explain litigation finance to clients. According to Trufelli, “The purpose of our guide is to be a tool or resource attorneys can give their clients should they be interested in an advance.  The purpose is to shift the burden of explaining the industry off the attorney’s plate so they can focus on more important things.”

Despite the rise of litigation finance, the large majority of cases are still too risky to be funded by third parties. Add to that the ethical concerns some observers have about the industry, and you have a recipe for continued problems with client credibility. Optimization of pricing can help attorneys deal with this issue, but it’s an imperfect solution.

Attorneys looking for more clients should consider several steps:

  • Look carefully at options to reach potential customers through advertising – most industries do advertise, and there is little reason for attorneys to be any different.
  • Dig deep on business analytics – Big Data and Business Intelligence may seem like the topic du jour of the moment, and to some extent they are overhyped, but there is a kernel of truth behind the hype, and they can help build a better business.
  • Study differential pricing opportunities – like airlines, hotels, and even business consultancies, attorneys should NOT be charging the same fees to all clients. Fees should be based on supply and demand for the skills required for a particular case.
  • Consider third-party funding if appropriate – not all cases will work with third-party funding, and it often makes sense to get help in shopping a case around to prospective funders, but there is no reason not to at least consider third-party funding if you have a viable case that could use it.

Overall, with all of the obstacles to effective business development, it is little wonder that so many attorneys cite business development as a hurdle to success. Despite these challenges, attorneys need to confront the issue head-on.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Let's Want to Close the Knowledge Gap on Crypto Currency

Cryptocurrency trading has become a way of life

In Asia, Europe, and the Americas, Cryptocurrency trading has become a way of life, but that is not the case in Nigeria and other African countries. In this interview, the Chief Executive and Principal Consultant, Crypto Plus Certified, Mr. Peter Ayoade Moradeyo tells Ndubuisi Francis that his company is poised to close the knowledge gap with the ultimate goal of enlisting Nigeria on the global cryptocurrency exchange.

What is a good way to concisely explain Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies?

The success story of Cryptocurrency dates back to 2009, during the financial breakout, when Bitcoin was formed on blockchain technology. Bitcoin was first introduced in Asian countries and gradually to Europe, US etc. It is needful to clarify however, that the blockchain technology is not the same thing as Bitcoin; the relationship between them is only that Bitcoin is deployed on the blockchain technology. Interestingly, Bitcoin seems to be more popular today than the platform on which it stands. Now, there are two things which distinguish Cryptocurrency from the normal currencies.

The first is that it is finite. It has a fixed number that can be taken off and immediately that happens, its value shoots up and we all know that anything that can finish naturally increases in value as it is being taken up. So, as the world gradually adopts cryptocurrency, the available number reduces and value automatically drives upwards, causing it to grow dynamically in value. That explains why Bitcoin has been able to grow like that since 2009.

The second thing is that cryptocurrency has intrinsic value or what some call store of value. Let me explain it this way: each copy of a coin is an address, a location on the blockchain. When one address belongs to a person, that address cannot belong to another person in any part of the world. This is unlike the fiat counterpart where any money reading on a person’s bank account means that the bank owes the account holder to the tune of the said amount, but not necessarily that money is the account holder’s to cash at any time. This is why sometimes the banks would tell an account holder that they do not have enough cash to complete a transaction. The case of the blockchain is different because the value is intrinsic and better preserved.

What is the function of CryptoPlus Certified?

Since 2009, Bitcoin and several other alt coins have been coming up. Alt coins are referred to as alternative coins to Bitcoin which is the first and most popular of them all. At a point, we realized there was an opportunity where Bitcoin and other coins can relate in value; there is value relativity between them. So, we started by trading Cryptocurrency. I can recall that sometime in 2015, there was an upsurge of certain Ponzis in Nigeria. Nigerians sustained the following of Ponzis until it became almost endemic. Unfortunately, very few Nigerians knew about the very essence of the medium of transfer which Bitcoin was during the transaction of these Ponzis. Bitcoin was only used because it did not need a third party like banks to facilitate a transaction between the Ponzis and their victims. So, the Ponzis took advantage of their patronage, cashing in on the anonymity of transaction which was part of the features of cryptocurrency. What was supposed to have been an advantage became a disadvantage because of the ignorance of Nigerians.

Someone needed to educate Nigerians appropriately as to what cryptocurrency really meant and what disruption it was meant to address. So, we now came up because before now, we had a deep background on its trading. We decided to reappraise the image of Cryptocurrency as it were in Nigeria.

Also, at several conferences we have been all over the world, we realised that Africans are non-existent on several cryptocurrency trading platforms. Just like we have the Nigerian Stock Exchange with several companies trading on its platform, there are also several participating bodies that trade value among us. The sad thing here is that Africans are non-existent on any Cryptocurrency exchange whether in US, Asia or Europe. This is also true when one considers Cryptocurrency graph. The Asians are up there; Europe and America are there too, but Africa is non- existent. Our function at Crypto Plus Certified is basically to close the knowledge gap so that people can take advantage available and then Nigeria can be enlisted on what we call the global Cryptocurrency exchange.

We trace the current state of Cryptocurrency trading to a slowness of adoption. The federal government is yet to adopt a framework for the implementation of blockchain that can give rise to participation. Several countries have done that but for some reasons it has not happened in Nigeria.

You have a dream to raise and establish 1,000 Nigerians on the Poloniex Exchange. What is the implementation plan put in place to achieve this and why the choice of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt?

We need to make it clear that Nigeria is a country with many opportunities. We also need to state that Bitcoin came into Nigeria with a wrongly perceived image, and on the wrong platform. So, our first goal is to take the responsibility to repair that image, and then reappraise the benefits and enlist Nigeria as a participator in the normal trading of Cryptocurrency.
In order to achieve that, we launched what we called, ‘Dream 1000’. It is all about trading on Poloniex which is the largest Crypto exchange in America and we are currently working with them on releasing a mobile platform strictly for Nigerians and it will work as an arbitrage with our own exchange which will come from Germany. We want to work as an arbitrage so that they will trade on our own platform via the mobile interface. Nigerians can be taught on how to trade this currency easily, and our strategy is very unique because the mobile application is actually enhanced to be able to reduce all the variables of a trading system. Since we launched the ‘Dream 1000’ recently in Lagos, we have had some of our students who were able to distinguish themselves with the level of knowledge we passed to them and they are going to show Nigerians that we are serious about what we are here to do.

How has the response been like?

I grew up in Nigeria before I decided to relate with other countries for business reasons. One thing I know about Nigerians is that they respond to results. So, the first thing we want to identify is, we want to be able to have people who have had results and that is why all the events we have done, we have been showcasing people that distinguished themselves, those that we gave the knowledge and they applied it and got results. We want to be inspired by results and not just belief.

Can Bitcoin be regulated? What about Bitcoin and taxes?

Those conversant with information coming out of crypto plus certified would have noticed that Nigeria is currently on a discourse on how to regulate Cryptocurrency trading based on several frameworks. I have several write-ups regarding this. Cryptocurrency trading as it were is decentralized and this is why the banking system cannot operate it. It is decentralized because of its nature. For instance, Bitcoin as it were, does not have a management interface and that is why the regulation has not been somewhat forthcoming. But it is found to be very secured and has an ability to store values. That has been the reason for all the inquiries on how do we have a framework for a kind of currency that has thus kind of features? Sometimes, it takes time, but individuals are working and several people have stored values on it and exchanged it with another. The US is an example where Poloniex is operating. So looking at it more objectively, the regulatory framework and the operational climate go hand in hand but they can be mutually exclusive.

 Bringing it to a layman’s understanding, what are the advantages of Bitcoin and how does Bitcoin work?

In a layman’s way, I would like to use the similitude of changing one currency to another, for instance. If you have some Naira notes and you want to change to Dollar, knowing the exchange rate that relates one to the other will be very helpful. Now to a layman if I bring my Naira and want to buy a Dollar, I will change the Naira to a Dollar based on the foreign exchange rate agreed between the person selling the Dollar and myself. Now imagine where you have the Bureau de Change in the middle and you have the buyer, that is, the demand, on one side and the supplier on the other side; that is the way it works. The person at the middle collects commissions from two persons. The buyer sells at a price based on demand and supply. So, if the demand is higher than supply, the price is likely to go up. If I’m able to read that the demand and price for a thing I bought and own have gone up and I sell it, now the difference between what I bought and what I am selling now that the price has gone up is my own profit. That is the basic analysis of how it works.

Demand for Cryptocurrency…what are your training modules like? The fee, process, and duration?

Training is 30 days and we have a huge demand for it and because of this, we have set up world class training hubs in the three geopolitical zones Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. So, demand is already there. We have a structure that accommodates different levels of trading – the strategic portfolio building and robotics. Our modules cover; Introduction to Cryptocurrency Trading – CPC 101, Cryptocurrency Masterclass – Advanced Trading CPC 102, Trading Engaging Robotics – CPC 103. People are already aware of what Cryptocurrency is; it will be wrong for us to say that people are not aware of it. The only thing is that there is a knowledge gap on how to use it and take advantage of the value in it, and that is what we are trying to close up.

Is there any risk attached to Cryptocurrency… Is Bitcoin legal? And how secure is Bitcoin?

The idea of trading Cryptocurrency and the national legal framework is mutually exclusive. Trading on Cryptocurrency can be done when someone knows how to handle it. The reason for the legal framework is to protect the participators because when there is no third party that puts power in the hands of those that know the ‘Whats’ and ‘Hows’. Bitcoin is safe and this knowledge is out there. You are your own bank. Records are protected by mathematical laws and are irreversible. The Blockchain technology protects its addresses and have histories on an open ledger, and is always available and transparent for anyone to confirm.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Bitcoin Mining Pool ViaBTC Says
No to
Segwit

  

Following a previous announcement by F2Pool

that they are now to signal for segregated witnesses (segwit), ViaBTC has publicly reiterated they do not support segwit for a number of reasons.  The bitcoin mining pool says:

SegWit, which is a soft fork solution for malleability, cannot solve the capacity problem… Even if SegWit after activation can slightly scale up block size with new transaction formats, it’s still far behind the demand for the development of Bitcoin network.

Bitcoin has been running at full capacity for months with numerous proposals put forward and rejected by miners. The latest ones are segwit, currently at around 32% hashrate share, and Bitcoin Unlimited which stands just under 40%. Segwit’s main aim is to send transactions off-chain and onto second layers, such as the Lightning Network or sidechains. ViaBTC says such transactions “are NOT equal to Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer on-chain transactions” before adding that “LN will also lead to big payment “centers”, and this is against Bitcoin’s initial design as a peer-to-peer payment system.”

The main criticism against segwit is its use of a 1:4 ratio, which many suspect is a political decision that will bind bitcoin’s trajectory for decades to come regardless of technical factors. ViaBTC says: “SegWit lifts the block size limit to 4MB with 1MB base and 3MB witness block. However, from the current transaction data, the average effective block size will be less than 2MB even if all transactions upgrade to SegWit. This is a tremendous waste. If we want to double the capacity of Bitcoin, we’ll need to make sure the internet bandwidth to run full nodes can support at least 8MB blocks, instead of 2MB. This will make it even tougher to increase block size in the future.” Moreover, the decision to upgrade to segwit is irreversible, according to ViaBTC. So if something goes wrong, bitcoin might be stuck because:

“On technical terms, SegWit uses a transaction format that can be spent by those who don’t upgrade their nodes, with segregation of transaction data and signature data. This means SegWit is irrevocable once it’s activated, or all unspent transactions in SegWit formats will face the risk of being stolen.” Some 70% of miners have now made a decision on whether to support segwit or Bitcoin Unlimited, a proposal which simply increases the blocksize as set by nodes and miners. It’s not clear what the other 30% are waiting for, but it will be interesting to see what they do decide once they get around to exercising their duty.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

What Is Bitcoin? Is It Legal Money? What Could Happen To Bitcoins In 2017?

  

Bitcoins, a form of digital currency

that operates on the principles of cryptography, has lately come under the scanner of the authorities throughout the world. So, it’s become necessary to know what are Bitcoins, how it works, the legal status of Bitcoins as well as what holds in the future of Bitcoins. 

In the year 1976, F.A Hayek, in his book “The Denationalisation of Money,” propagated the establishment of competitively issued private money. In the mid-70s, what seemed like a farfetched idea was conceived by yet another Economist in the year 1999. Milton Friedman, an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, predicted of time where internet, (still in a nascent stage then) would help abolish the role of a government and evolve a currency free from the shackles of the government control. Less than ten years later the prophecy came true when Satoshi Nakamoto, a Japanese, invented a form of cryptocurrency called “Bitcoin.” The origin of Bitcoins can be traced to the aftermath of the global recession and money crisis of 2008 that shook the whole world economy.

What is bitcoin? How does it work?

In the simplest form, Bitcoins can be described as a “Peer to Peer Electronic cash system.” Bitcoins can be used as a method of payment for numerous goods and services and for simple transactions like purchasing vouchers, paying bills, etc. In different jurisdictions, Bitcoins are treated as a property, currency, virtual asset, good, security or commodity for the purpose of trading on a stock exchange or commodity exchange.

Essentially Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, i.e., it operates on the principles of cryptography to manage the creation of Bitcoins and securing the transactions. Cryptocurrencies are managed by private parties, without the need for a government authority to monitor the currency system. The currency has been designed in a way that the number of total units of Bitcoins in circulation will always be limited. Going by the pace at which Bitcoins are being minted, the last unit will be mined around the year 2140.

The cryptocurrencies essentially work on the Blockchain system. A Blockchain is a public ledger of Bitcoins that is designed to record all the transactions. The chronological order of Blockchain is enforced with cryptography and each new ledger update creates newly minted Bitcoins. This is designed in a way that Bitcoin wallets can calculate their total balance and new transactions can be verified. The integrity and the chronological order of the block chain are enforced with cryptography.

Bitcoin Working

The buyer and seller can enter into transactions by using their Bitcoin wallets that are secured by a secret piece of data called, a “Private key.” The key is used to authorize the transactions by the owner of the wallet, and cannot be normally tempered by anyone, once it is issued.  The transactions are performed by adding the Bitcoin wallets on an exchange, acting as a facilitator for sale and purchase of Bitcoins. All transactions are displayed between the users and usually begin to be confirmed by the network through a process called “Mining.” It is essentially the process of creating new Bitcoins out of the total Bitcoins that are designed to be “Mined” using computers. The transactions transfer the value between the users and get recorded in the Blockchain, ensuring that each transaction is valid.

Is Bitcoin legal money?

The legality of Bitcoins is controversial, while some jurisdictions have express laws and regulations to deal with Bitcoins, others still fall in gray areas. As per a recent bill in Japan, Bitcoins and other virtual currencies have been given legal recognition and are accepted as a mode of payment. While in China, trading in Bitcoins come under the regulatory restrictions imposed by People’s Bank of China.

In the U.S.A, different states have adopted varying approaches to Bitcoins. Recently a U.S Magistrate in the state of New York ruled that Bitcoins are not money, while a contradictory stance was taken by a judge in Manhattan, who ruled that bitcoins are acceptable means of payment. The Internal Revenue Service in the United States defines bitcoin as property rather than currency for tax purposes. The U.S. Treasury, by contrast, classifies bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency.

In Russia, reportedly, Bitcoins may soon be regulated in a bid to tackle money laundering, though, in the past, Russia has expressed its displeasure with Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. In India, as of now, no regulations have been framed by either Reserve Bank of India or Securities and Exchange Board of India, the two contenders, for the purpose of drafting regulations pertaining to Bitcoins and acting as a watchdog.

In India, who ultimately acts as a regulatory authority can only be decided based on whether the government decides to treat Bitcoins as “Currency” or “Security/Commodity.” As per current Indian laws, “Currency” can only be issued by the government but the residuary powers in this regard lie with the Reserve Bank of India which can notify “Bitcoins” as currency.  After the demonetization drive in India, the demand for Bitcoin has more than doubled in less than two months. The Indian government has reportedly set up an inter-disciplinary committee to regulate the Bitcoins amidst the apprehensions that the black money hoarders may have invested into Bitcoins.

Bitcoin trends in 2017

Bitcoins are extremely volatile in nature. While the future trends for Bitcoins can’t be predicted with utmost certainty, as per a report published on Forbes, the market is set to show strong waves in the favor of cryptocurrencies, as predicted by a crypto market intelligence startup. As per the latest position, The 24-hour average rate of exchange across USD Bitcoin markets is US$1184.87, the 7-day average is US$1204.85, and the 30-day average is US$1080.26 confirming only the volatility of Bitcoins.

There are possibilities that some countries may introduce an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to make Bitcoin Trading easier and accessible. While a similar application to create an ETF has been rejected by The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the chances of other countries adopting it are not bleak. Currently, sale and purchase of Bitcoins is a multi-step process. Creating an ETF would make it possible for the investors to buy Bitcoins through the stock market.

Further, In the future Blockchains, the underlying technology to Bitcoins may bring revolution in the music industry.  Cryptography could transform the music industry by using Blockchain ledgers. As per reports, an attempt is being made to bring music distribution under the cryptography. This can be done by adding the music to blockchain and letting the users distribute the music by paying a sum. This can also bring down music piracy.

To sum up the discussion, it can be said that while Bitcoins may not replace the “Fiat Currency” anytime soon, but there has been a phenomenal growth in the acceptance of cryptocurrencies around the world. While the investors may still be reluctant to invest in Bitcoins, given the high risks associated with it, the demand for Bitcoins has grown manifold. In the end, it could be argued that a good legal and regulatory framework for Bitcoins would help the investors decide the viability of Bitcoins in the long run.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor