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Five times crypto got weird in 2020

Crypto is no stranger to weirdos, so here’s a few times the space got strange in 2020.
Every industry, group, clique and conclave has its own share of weirdos — cryptocurrency and blockchain are no exception. Considering that…

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Crypto is no stranger to weirdos, so here’s a few times the space got strange in 2020.

Every industry, group, clique and conclave has its own share of weirdos — cryptocurrency and blockchain are no exception. 

Considering that cryptocurrency is the so-called “native” currency of the internet — the repository of the sum of human knowledge and the eccentricities there contained — the crypto sector is home to perhaps even weirder moments and personalities than more established and traditional industries.

Outside of crypto’s inherently odd character, 2020 itself has shaped up to be a bizarre, if not downright terrible year. Existing socioeconomic problems in countries around the globe were exacerbated by the appearance of the novel coronavirus and governments’ subsequent reactions to it. 

Bolivia and Kyrgyzstan underwent political upheaval, while the United States presidential election sowed more doubt about the country’s future than certainty in the peaceful transition of power. 

Kanye West’s fashion brand received $5 million in coronavirus relief for small businesses. Hackers gatecrashed Zoom meetings. Tiger King became a brief obsession. A bunch of tone-deaf celebrities sang “Imagine” and it was absolutely horrible. The list of the weird and the bad goes on.

Crypto’s 2020 was no exception, with its own fair share of eccentric billionaires, foul-ups, power grabs and political posturing. So, as we say “sayonara” to 2020, let’s take a look at a few of the weirdest moments in crypto this year.

The crypto presidents 

This year has been a big one for cryptocurrency adoption. Major financial firms have gone in on Bitcoin (BTC), with sizeable allocations and investments by banks and mutual funds.

As crypto becomes an increasingly mainstream financial instrument, it has attracted the admiration and ire of those in the halls of power. Proponents reached toward regulatory approval while suspicious politicians across the global sought to clamp down on crypto.

It should come as no surprise, then, that some in the crypto community tried to influence the regulatory discourse on cryptocurrencies. A select few, however, sought to do so as President of the United States of America.

American computer scientist and well-known eccentric John McAfee announced his own presidential run as the “crypto candidate” in 2018. However, things got even more interesting as he took to running his campaign from abroad as he supposedly fled capture by U.S. authorities pursuing him on tax charges. Operations were reportedly helped along by an eye-patched campaign manager.

McAfee frequently stated that he was only running for president to raise awareness about cryptocurrency, and never expected to win.

In May 2020, McAfee threw in the towel on his presidential bid, instead running for vice presidency, as the Libertarian Party in which he sought his nomination allows a vice president candidate to run separately.

Brock Pierce, a former child actor and crypto venture capitalist jumped into the presidential race relatively late, in the summer of 2020. 

A co-founder of Block.one, the organization that created EOS, Pierce was featured on British comedian John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, where Oliver drew attention to the former’s eccentric spiritual take on EOS and his unicorn-themed wedding at the legendary U.S. art festival, Burning Man. 

Pierce’s strategy and overall campaign image was far more tempered than that of McAfee. In addition to running on a platform prioritizing the development of digital currencies, he also had clear policies on a variety of other relevant issues, including criminal justice reform, universal earned income and healthcare. 

As we well know, neither man won. Pierce has largely gone radio silent after the campaign’s conclusion, and McAfee is reportedly residing in a Spanish jail, so there will be no unicorn-themed parties in the Rose Garden, and no one will be smoking bath salts in the Roosevelt Room. 

The drama at Bitmain

The details of corporate leadership are often unknown to the layman, as the major decisions and conversations all take place behind closed doors. One imagines Machiavellian takeovers and sycophants vying to get a rung up on the ladder, like in Billions or The Wolf of Wall Street.

The case of Bitmain, one of the largest producers of Bitcoin mining hardware, would appear to follow this stereotype.

In a story that is so dramatic it could have been written for TV, the once-friends and co-founders of the Bitcoin mining giant were locked in a bitter power struggle over the company, affecting its basic operations.

In October of last year, Bitmain co-founder Micree Zhan was ousted from the company in an attempt to “save the ship” by the firm’s other co-founder, Jihan Wu. 

The conflict reportedly started due to Zhan’s supposedly disproportionate control over the company. He allegedly owned twice as many stocks in the firm as Wu, but the shares were downgraded as the drama began to unfold.

In May 2020, Bitmain issued statements confirming rumors that Zhan had been ousted from the company. Zhan subsequently sued Bitmain, and Wu ordered all employees to either sever contact with him or face punishment.

Armed guards reportedly appeared at the firm’s Beijing offices at Zhan’s behest in order to establish himself as a legal representative of the company. While Wu condemned the takeover, Zhan appears to have achieved some success, as he forbade employees to complete shipments of mining rigs.

Bitmain maintained that Zhan had no right to represent the company legally, but in June, he offered to buy out the company for $4 billion in shares. He appears to have been successful in changing the firm’s payments details to entities he controls, but hardware shipments still suffered and 10,000 mining rigs controlled by the firm went “missing” in Mongolia

The Bitmain leadership struggle has yet to conclude, so we may look forward to more weird twists and turns in 2021.

The great Twitter hack of 2020... 

July 15, 2020 is a day that will live on in infamy for social media giant Twitter, as the accounts of famous politicians, businesspeople and media figures were hacked and used for a Bitcoin giveaway scam.

The pages of Elon Musk, Kanye West, President-Elect Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were all compromised and sent out posts with one of the oldest crypto scams in the book.

In the crypto giveaway scam, a supposedly magnanimous individual claims to be sharing their wealth via Bitcoin. One only needs to send a small amount to their listed address so that they can ascertain what your address is, and send you a sum worth far more than your initial transfer.

Most people with a passing familiarity with crypto are aware of this kind of scam, but some that are new to the space, or don’t know about crypto at all, apparently don’t think it all weird that Barack Obama wants to give them Bitcoin, and thus fall victim to the scheme.

Elon Musk’s hacked crypto account

Elon Musk’s hacked crypto account. Source: Cointelegraph

In addition to the aforementioned famous faces, hackers also compromised the accounts of prominent players in the crypto space, including major exchanges Binance, Coinbase and Gemini, as well as protocols like Tron.  

While Twitter responded immediately by locking the affected blue-check accounts, the damage had already been done. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey expressed his own lamentations on the platform.

https://twitter.com/jack/status/1283571658339397632

Rumors and speculation that the hack was an inside job were quelled when Twitter released a report on the incident, revealing that employees with broad administrative privileges had been victims of a spear-phishing attack.

While doppelganger accounts of famous individuals are often created to execute scams, the Twitter hack this year set a new precedent for the lengths scammers are willing to go to on social media platforms.

The $1 million bounty that never was

Never one to shy away from a good publicity stunt, Tron founder and BitTorrent CEO Justin Sun offered a $1 million dollar bounty to whoever could track down the parties responsible for the Twitter hack. 

However, when reporters attempted to work with Tron in tracking down the scammers, the company miraculously failed to follow through on its high-profile promise.

After an individual approached a Cointelegraph reporter with highly credible information regarding the potential hackers, Cointelegraph attempted to put the individual in touch with Tron in order to pass on this info.

Tron, however, seemed utterly disinterested in talking to the source, instead insisting that the source get Cointelegraph’s stamp of approval before making its own examination. In its correspondence with both Cointelegraph and the source, it seemed like the company was trying to get out of paying the bounty. One group chat went as follows:

“Source: Whenever [you] are free, we could hop in a Zoom or Discord call and explain everything to you guys.

Tron representative: No we can chat right here go ahead.

Source: It’s a lot, much easier over a voice call.

Tron representative: Not happening.”

Instead, Tron set up an email account for tips, while major papers reported deep dives into the hack four days after Cointelegraph and the source had initially approached Tron. Tron later claimed that an FBI investigation into the incident was sufficient cause to terminate the bounty.

Tron’s behavior did seem rather odd, given its proposed goals, in addition to being rather convenient, as it didn’t need to pay out the generous sum. 

The Dickening

Price predictions abound in the crypto space. Experts and analysts have predicted a Bitcoin bull run leading the coin to $100,000 during this cycle, and perhaps as high as $1 million by 2035. One Citibank analyst recently predicted a Bitcoin price of over $300,000 in 2021.

However, there is one particular price prediction that earns a spot on the weird-list this year. John McAfee, whom we already know as affirmed eccentric within the crypto space, made a bet three years ago that could be rather painful if he actually delivers.

In 2017, McAfee bet that Bitcoin would hit $500,000 by 2020, and if not, he would eat his own genitalia on television. As the 2017 bull run gained steam, however, he upped his bet.

https://twitter.com/officialmcafee/status/935900326007328768

The event, which has become known as The Dickening and earned its own countdown clock, is now less than two weeks away.

So, all Bitcoin price needs to do for McAfee to avoid a rude luncheon is to increase by almost 5,000% in the next several days. Perhaps it’s a good thing his bet isn’t locked into a smart contract. 

The year to come

As 2020 comes to a close, one thing is clear: The cryptocurrency space is growing and adoption will continue to increase throughout 2021 and the years to come. As the industry thrives, the weirdos contained therein will likely continue to shock and entertain both insiders and observers.

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Stocks

Bitcoin Back Below $30,000 After A Record 8 Weeks In The Red

Bitcoin decoupled from equity markets to the downside on Monday after ending last week as the eighth consecutive weekly loss.

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Bitcoin decoupled from equity markets to the downside on Monday after ending last week as the eighth consecutive weekly loss.

Bitcoin has failed to hold the $30,000 level on Monday after scoring its eighth consecutive week in the red for the first time ever.

During these eight weeks, which began in late March and ended on Sunday, bitcoin has lost over 35% of its U.S. dollar value according to TradingView data. Before the beginning of the losing streak, BTC was trading at around $46,800.

Bitcoin has scored losses for eight consecutive weeks for the first time in its history and it is starting the ninth with yet another red candle. Image source: TradingView.

Bitcoin is changing hands slightly below $30,000 at the time of writing. The peer-to-peer currency climbed as high as $30,600 earlier on Monday to trade at around $29,400 as the trading in equity markets nears its end in New York.

While bitcoin turns south, major U.S. stock indices have been in the green. The Nasdaq, which is said to be highly correlated with bitcoin, decoupled from the digital money along with the S&P 500 to denote modest gains near market close on Monday, per TradingView data.

While bitcoin, Nasdaq and S&P 500 were trading in tandem for some time on Monday, the P2P currency saw a sharp sell-off decouple it from the two indices and take it to a more than 3% loss for the day. Image source: TradingView.

A Tough Year For Bitcoin

Despite making two new all-time highs in 2021, bitcoin already erased nearly all of those gains in 2022.

Bitcoin’s choppy trading year so far can be partly attributed to a broader sentiment of economic uncertainty as the Federal Reserve tightens the U.S. economy, withdrawing liquidity from the market after almost two years of quantitative easing.

The central bank has already raised its basic interest rates two times this year, the last of which was double the magnitude of the previous one and represented the largest hike in two decades: While the Fed increased interest rates by 0.25% in March, it raised them by 0.50% earlier this month.

Image source: Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED).

When the Fed raises or lowers interest rates through its Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), what it is actually doing is setting a target range. The graph above depicts the lower and upper bounds of that target range in red and blue, respectively.

While the U.S. central bank system sets the target, it cannot mandate that commercial banks use it — rather, it serves as a recommendation. Therefore, what banks end up using for lending and borrowing excess cash between them overnight is called the effective rate. This is shown by the green line in the graph above.

The Fed previously hiked interest rates consistently from 2016 to 2019, until plunging it near zero in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, as noted in the graph.

Bitcoin’s higher sensitivity to liquidity and therefore interest rates can be explained by a greater participation of institutional investors in the market, whose allocations are based on the availability of capital and broader economic conditions, Morgan Stanley reportedly said.

Therefore, while Bitcoin was able to sustain a bull market in the midst of the Fed increasing interest rates in 2017, raising nearly 2,000% from January to December that year, the odds aren’t on the side of the bulls this year.

For two weeks, bitcoin has now closed below a level of weekly support it formed over a year ago and had respected since, indicating it might be turning into a zone of resistance. Image source: TradingView.

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Crypto

WEF 2022: Terra were offering unsustainable yields; DeFi can support financial inclusion

Industry experts share insights and commentary with Cointelegraph on the first day of the Blockchain Hub 2022 conference in Davos, Switzerland.

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Industry experts share insights and commentary with Cointelegraph on the first day of the Blockchain Hub 2022 conference in Davos, Switzerland.

Reporting from the inaugural day of the Blockchain Hub Davos 2022 conference, Cointelegraph’s editor-in-chief, Kristina Lucrezia Cornèr hosted a panel discussion centred around decentralized finance (DeFi) titled ‘Programmable Money is Here — and It’s Changing the World as We Know It’.

Panelists included Chief Partnership Officer of SwissBorg, Alexander Fazel; Global Markets Lead of Kraken Europe, Lucian Aguilar; Co-founder and CEO of CasperLabs, Mrinal Monahar; and Managing Partner of Coral Capital, Patrick Horsman.

In the opening remarks of the conversation, Aguilar reflected upon his attendance of the event two years ago, assessing the differences in receptiveness and attitude to crypto. He also noted how the prevailing narrative has evolved, stating: “Last time [there were] a lot of projects here that were trying to sell and present. This time when I look around it’s more talking about building, adopting, and innovating.”

All of his fellow panelists concurred with this viewpoint. Horsman shared that DeFi’s total value locked (TVL) was $1 billion in May 2020, but has since grown 150 times — a healthy barometer of success for the industry by his account.

Engaging the audience in a hand-raising exercise to determine their entry-point into the space, SwissBorg’s Fazel stated that “in TradiFi people are thinking [that] I don’t want to lose money — how can you help me keep my wealth regardless of markets? So, it’s very risk-management orientated. While in DeFi, the degens are like ‘gimme those triple-digit yields wooo!’”

He argued that protocols within the space should adopt higher transparency standards for the risk associated with annual percentage yields (APYs), advocating that additional education could also support in balancing the expectations of investors.

Advancing that thesis, Coral Capital’s Horsman shared that the Terra (LUNA) crisis partly occurred because “they were essentially offering yields that were unsustainable, and [that] there were venture capital firms that were bootstrapping those yields in order to bootstrap an ecosystem.” He noted that his firm decided to withdraw funds from the project in Nov-Dec 2021 after their reserve modelling data predicted worrying calculations for the future.

Related: Why did Terra LUNA and UST crash? | Find out on The Market Report

In response to that anecdote, Aguilar shared his belief that protocols with vastly significant APYs in the triple-digit range are mostly likely seeking to mitigate their own high risk factor, stating:

“A lot of these APYs, I see them as a risk premium because the underlying is so underpredicted and unstable that it’s needed to offset the risk for a traditional investor.”

Transitioning to the World Economic Forum’s (WEFs) ambitions in tackling modern global challenges — climate change and the pandemic being some of the most prominent examples of recent times — Cornèr asked the panelists how they assess the status of financial inclusion, and how DeFi can empower communities to reduce the prejudicial disparity in the current system.

Monahar stated that “I think DeFi has a huge potential to create financial inclusion”, but that to achieve visions of decentralization there needs to be “interoperability at a true fundamental algorithmic level.” This, he argued, will cultivate a frictionless experience which promotes commonality and fosters incentives for inclusion.

He recognized the recent convergence of developers to the programming language Rust as a positive signal, as well as its similarities to the software synonymous with the internet, HTTPS.

Furthering the conversation around financial inclusion, Fazel stated that "there's no better way to earn wealth than in DeFi" and that data monetization services such as Brave Browser, play-to-earn games such as Axie Infinity, and play-to-move platforms such as Sweatcoin and the soaring trend of STEPN, are granting the opportunity to "generate wealth without necessarily having wealth in the beginning."

The airdrop incentives that some of these platforms provide can support inclusion of wealth across less developed country's argued Fazel, disclosing a personal story of his father — a resident of Iran where the monthly salary averages $250 — immensely benefitting from the 300 Uniswap (UNI) airdrop.

Related: WEF 2022, May 23: Latest updates from the Cointelegraph Davos team

Cointelegraph representatives are extensively reporting on the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Blockchain Hub 2022 this week. Read our live action blog to follow along with all the highlights and best moments of the global events!

Readers of this article can watch the full interview of 'Programmable Money is Here — and It’s Changing the World as We Know It’ on Youtube via this link.

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Stocks

Best Penny Stocks To Buy According To 4 Analysts & Targets Up To $8

Best penny stocks to buy according to analysts.
The post Best Penny Stocks To Buy According To 4 Analysts & Targets Up To $8 appeared first on Penny…

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Want to buy penny stocks? You might have thought about starting by following analysts. Today we look at 4 penny stocks to buy according to a few Wall Street analysts with bullish price targets to go with them.

The thing to remember about analyst ratings is that they usually have an outlook beyond “today.” These firms will dig into things like recent financials, development or product pipelines, and the current industry or market conditions that could contribute to the success or failure of the companies.

Penny Stocks To Buy [According To Analysts]

  1. EOS Energy Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ: EOSE)
  2. Porch Group Inc. (NASDAQ: PRCH)
  3. FTC Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FTCI)
  4. Ginkgo Bioworks Holdings Inc.(NYSE: DNA)

1. EOS Energy Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ: EOSE): +498%

Energy stocks have recharged bullish traders looking for pockets of opportunity. Even with the stock market crash this year, shares of oil & gas and even alternative energy stocks have jumped. EOS Energy focuses on clean energy systems using its Znyth aqueous zinc battery platform. It is being designed to compete with traditional lithium-ion batteries already in the market.

EOS reported first-quarter earnings and worse than expected EPS and sales results earlier this month. However, based on comments from company CEO Joe Mastrangelo, it appears that EOS is looking at just a simple bump in the road. Mastrangelo explained in a May update that, “We are building a company ready to deliver safe, scalable, flexible, and affordable energy storage. Our manufacturing capacity expansion is on plan, we are seeing improved first-pass production yields, and we are proud to be working towards a cleaner, brighter energy future.”

Penny Stocks To Buy Now? 4 To Watch Under $1

Though analysts have lowered price targets, firms including B. Riley appear to remain bullish based on price targets. Its analysts have a Buy on EOSE stock and a $7 price target. Despite this being much lower than the previous $13 target, the new outlook is still nearly 500% higher than current price levels.

2. Porch Group Inc. (NASDAQ: PRCH): + 74%

penny stocks to buy Porch Group Inc. PRCH stock chart

Shares of Porch Group continued trading higher on Monday. This extended a move that began earlier this month after the company announced earnings. Porch’s specialty is software development for the home services and insurance industries.

Total revenue for the first quarter reached $62.6 million, equating to a jump of over $35 million compared to the first quarter of last year. “Porch is off to a strong start in 2022…Our vertical software and insurance segments are performing very well and reported substantial revenue increases. This strong performance early in the year gives us confidence in affirming our previously disclosed guidance and highlights why the team is excited about the remainder of the year,” said Matt Ehrlichman, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Porch Group, Inc.

With new approvals in Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia, the company is also on track to leverage particular insights from its current data into its underwriting models. Adding to this, JP Morgan analysts recently initiated coverage of the company. The firm set its rating at Overweight and gave a price target o $8. Based on current trading levels, this target sits roughly 74% higher.

3. FTC Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FTCI): +80%

penny stocks to buy FTC Solar Inc. FTCI stock chart

Like EOS, FTC is also focused on alternative energy applications. In this case, as the name suggests, the company is part of the solar industry. In particular, FTC provides solar tracking systems and solutions, including engineering and software.

Shares slipped earlier this month after the company reported its latest round of earnings. In addition to headwinds from the broader stock market sell-off, FTC also missed estimates and gave a revenue forecast that reflected delays by solar developers. Regardless, FTCI stock has made some headway going into the end of May. Shares have made a rebound from lows of $2.12 to over $4 at the end of last week.

What to Know About Buying Penny Stocks on May 23rd

What do analysts think about FTC right now? Missed earnings aside, many analysts have remained bullish on the stock. The most recent firm, Northland Securities, initiated coverage on the stock this week. It started FTCI with an Outperform rating and a $7 price target. Considering the penny stock sits just under $3.90, this target is 80% higher right now.

4. Ginkgo Bioworks Holdings Inc.(NYSE: DNA): +200%

penny stocks to buy Ginkgo Bioworks DNA stock chart

Shares of Ginkgo Bioworks have been channel-bound for weeks, but that hasn’t stopped traders from taking advantage of the volatility. Earlier this month, the cell programming company announced plans to develop global biosecurity capabilities in Qatar alongside First Serv. This new partnership aims to build Doha as a critical access point for a pathogen monitoring network.

Considering the uncertainty surrounding numerous viruses, including COVID and now, monkeypox, this news seems to have come at a reasonable time. “Biosecurity in this new era is about applying the cutting edge tools of the biotech age to prevent the next pandemic or infectious disease threat. Proactive pathogen monitoring is an essential part of this effort—we need a robust global weather map to identify and track emerging biological threats,” said Matt McKnight, General Manager, Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks.

What do analysts think about DNA stock? If you look at KeyCorp’s rating, it appears to have taken a bullish stance on the beaten-down biotech stock. The firm has an Overweight rating on the penny stock and a price target 200% higher at $8.

Penny Stocks To Buy

Starting with analyst coverage may be an interesting first step if you’re looking for penny stocks to buy. These firms make a point to dive into company specifics beyond market hype. But, it’s important to remember that they are not always the final say in what the market or stocks will (or won’t) do. With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to have a plan in place and a strategy perfected. According to analysts, these are just a few of the penny stocks to buy right now. Do you agree? Drop a comment if any of these are on your list of penny stocks right now.

The post Best Penny Stocks To Buy According To 4 Analysts & Targets Up To $8 appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information | PennyStocks.com.

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