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Booking.com-Partnered Travala Now Accepts Tether’s Controversial USDT

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Crypto-friendly hotel booking giant Travala now accepts payment from a controversial cryptocurrency leader.   

On Jan. 10, Travala announced that Tether (USDT) is now a valid form of payment at its two million linked properties. Travala CEO Matt Luczynski said:

“Part of our mission is to provide our users with a wide choice of the most well known and used cryptocurrencies so it made perfect sense for us to integrate USDT as a payment option on Travala.com.”

In addition to Tether, Travala also accepts payments of Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, Binance Coin, Bitcoin Cash, Stellar, and Cardano, as well as its own coin, AVA. 

Tether’s position in the crypto market

Tether entered the crypto market in 2017. The stablecoin promised to avoid price fluctuations with its one-to-one ratio with fiat currency. Merchants showed eagerness for the Hong Kong-based coin. 

“Merchants used to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and convert it into Tether in order to hedge against the volatility,” said Sean Mackay, operations lead at PaymentsSource, a financial services resource. “Now we are seeing the payments just being done directly in Tether.”

Stablecoin faces legal woes

Last April, New York Attorney General Letitia James charged Tether’s parent company, Tether Limited, of colluding with parent company, iFinex, and using Tether’s reserve funds to cover the loss of more than $850 million in client and corporate funds from crypto exchange Bitfinex, thus undermining USDT’s claims to stability based on USD reserves. 

Despite iFinex’s legal difficulties, and despite having the fifth-highest market capitalization, Tether continues to see the highest daily and monthly trading volume. As of writing, Tether boasts a 24-hour trading volume of nearly $26.5 billion — exceeding Bitcoin’s $22.5 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/bookingcom-partnered-travala-now-accepts-tethers-controversial-usdt

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Crypto and Blockchain Firms Pitch In to Help Coronavirus Victims

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Some blockchain and cryptocurrency firms have pledged to help victims of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Cryptocurrency exchange Binance pledged to donate 10 million Chinese yuan ($1.44 million) to the effort.

In a tweet on Jan. 25, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said that Binance made the pledge but did not make any announcements after a Twitter user tagged him in a news article about cryptocurrency donations being accepted for the cause:

“For #Wuhan, not realistic to do crypto to end beneficiaries. Binance pledged 10m RMB ($1.5m USD) to help #coronavirus victims. We didn’t make any announcements. But [Binance Charity Foundation] BCF/Binance team has been busy for the last few days. Still need help to arrange logistics locally.”

According to a Jan. 25 WeChat post by blockchain marketing service firm Krypital, the firm also launched a charity donation effort to acquire medical supplies for Wuhan coronavirus victims.

Krypital also announced that it will create a blockchain-based donation system that allows for greater transparency and efficiency. The firm accepts Tether (USDT) on the Ethereum blockchain.

The company is also recruiting volunteers for group administration, material purchase, sorting and transportation management, media announcements and graphic designers.

As Cointelegraph reported, yesterday Bitcoin (BTC) slumped 6% on the Chinese New Year as uncertainty surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. On Jan. 26, Fox News reported that the current death toll of the virus is 56.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/crypto-and-blockchain-firms-pitch-in-to-help-coronavirus-victims

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Cryptocurrency News From Japan: Jan. 20–24 in Review

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This week’s headlines from Japan include several central banks collaborating on digital currency research, Binance removing the Japanese yen from its platform, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party investigating digital assets, comments from Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister on digital currency research importance, and Coincheck paying out its first Lisk staking reward. 

Check out some of this week’s crypto and blockchain headlines, originally reported by Cointelegraph Japan.

Japanese political party proposes digital currencies

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party aims to propose a national digital asset in spring of this year, according to some reports. A parliamentary group of 70 lawmakers will reportedly submit their proposal in February and will note how the currency will act with regard to concerns about individual data security and money laundering. 

Bank of Japan and several other central banks evaluate digital currencies

News of action from Japanese lawmakers coincides with the debut of a research group of global central banks — including the Bank of Japan (BOJ) — that will study the possibilities and limitations of central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs.

The Financial Stability Board, among others, will also participate in the effort. Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub director Benoit Coeure will sit as the group’s co-chair, alongside the Bank of England’s Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe.  

Binance deletes Japanese yen currency pairings

Binance reportedly removed the Japanese yen from its exchange, just days after seemingly adding support for the fiat currency. While the option initially appeared on the exchange’s list of fiat spending options, it was subsequently removed.

A Binance spokesperson told Cointelegraph Japan that the yen will be restricted on the platform until support for the fiat eventually launches through a partnership with transaction processor Simplex.

Japanese Finance Minister says no digital assets on the horizon

While policymakers are showing clear signs of interest in CBDCs, Japan’s Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said that the immediate issuance of such an asset is not an immediate priority.

Ato noted the importance of the CBDC collaborative group’s research efforts, adding that a digital currency must have convenience and credibility. However, he added that, “There are no plans to issue digital currencies at this time.” 

Coincheck crypto exchange doles out first Lisk staking reward

Tokyo-based crypto exchange and wallet Coincheck settled its first Lisk (LSK) staking payout this week, totalling 2,251.9 LSK ($1,800). The exchange first announced Lisk staking capabilities on Jan. 9.

Staking rewards are a byproduct of the proof-of-stake consensus algorithm, that was first introduced by Sunny King and Scott Nadal via the  Peercoin (PPC) white paper in 2012.

Within such a system, token holders can “stake” their assets to help maintain the network, and in return, receive interest on their holdings.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/cryptocurrency-news-from-japan-jan-2024-in-review

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Forget Bitcoin! Analysts think you should watch this ASX share in 2020

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Bitcoin and blockchain technology have been heralded as key disrupters of the finance sector. Investing in disruption technologies can be extremely risky with variable investment returns and profitability.

Last week, analysts from corporate advisory service Moelis Australia initiated a buy rating on a disrupter in the personal lending market. The company in question is WISR Ltd (ASX:WZR) and here’s why analysts think it has great potential for 2020 and beyond.

What does Wisr do?

Wisr is Australia’s first neo-lender that has a major focus on consumer financial wellness. As an online lender, Wisr boasts an innovative business model and unique distribution channels that allow the company to attract consumers. 

The personal lending sector in Australia is worth approximately $50 billion and Wisr aims to disrupt the market by providing consumers with fairer credit programs and data driven platforms. Wisr aims to nurture a financial wellness culture by providing consumers with innovative finance products and the Wisr app that helps users pay down debt. The company also boasts the country’s only credit score comparison service through WisrCredit.com.au

How has Wisr performed?

Wisr has had a positive start to 2020 with the company’s share price up more than 35% since the start of January and has returned more than 466% in the past 12 months. Earlier this month, Wisr provided shareholders with an update on the company’s performance in the second quarter of FY20.

For the second quarter, Wisr reported a record 36% growth in quarterly loan origination of $163.8 million to 31 December 2019. According to management, the performance in the second quarter shows that Wisr can grow its core lending business whilst also focusing on consumer wellness.

Bullish note

Analysts from Moelis Australia released a bullish note regarding their outlook for Wisr and issued a $0.28 share price target. Wisr’s performance in the second quarter for FY20 was cited by analysts as an indicator of further acceleration in volumes. As a result, Wisr’s revenue estimates for FY20 were revised 7.8% higher to $8.9 million for FY20.  

According to analysts, Wisr’s commercialisation of new distribution channels and personal loans is still in its infancy. Analysts see further upside in loan volumes for Wisr as the company looks to take advantage of the large opportunity provided by the personal lending market.

Foolish takeaway

The Royal Commission into banking and lending, alongside the advent of open banking and positive credit reporting has presented Wisr with a large and addressable market opportunity. The focus on consumer wellness follows in the footsteps of companies like Afterpay Ltd (ASX:APT), which operates in the buy-now, pay-later sector.

Analysts from Moelis have provided excellent research on Wisr, however a bullish note should not prompt investors to automatically buy shares in the company. In my opinion, Wisr is well poised to take advantage of a large market opportunity and it is exciting to see disrupters focused on consumer wellness.

The Wisr share price is currently trading near all-time highs and if the company can continue to grow loan volumes there should be further upside. I think a prudent strategy would be to keep Wisr on a watchlist and wait for price action to confirm before making an investment decision.

If you don’t like the volatility of disruptor stocks like Wisr, here are 3 stable, dividend stocks you could buy instead. 

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Nikhil Gangaram has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

Source: https://www.fool.com.au/2020/01/26/forget-bitcoin-analysts-think-you-should-watch-this-asx-share-in-2020/

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