Did you like the Technoking’s techno beat? 🎵
Our surprise to learn that Daylight Savings Time started
The Q.ai team is in a great mood today and it’s not only because it’s Friday. We launched on Product Hunt yesterday to some spectacular feedback – and even more spectacular results.
We’re so thrilled to share that we were voted #1 Product of the Day. 🏆 If you want to see what all the fuss is about, check out our launch page. 😁
In this newsletter:
- 5 headlines that sum up the week
- An update on Elon Musk
- Cryptocurrencies explained
- Our rec of the week
Five headlines that sum up the week 🚀 📈
1. The Fed cut its unemployment forecast and leveled-up its GDP growth
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve shared that they have no plans to raise interest rates through 2023 and expect inflation to increase an average of 2% throughout that period of time – which they consider to be healthy. This positive economic outlook has led them to adjust its unemployment forecast to 4.5% from 6.2%. It also adjusted its GDP growth forecast from 4.5% to 6.5%.
2. Google is cutting the commissions it charges App Store developers in half
That is, for the the first $1 million in app sales. For all sales under $1 million, Google will now charge app developers a 15% commissions fee. It will still charge its usual 30% commission fee for all app sales that exceed that amount. This reminds us of the drama between Epic Games and Apple, which resulted in a lawsuit that is still ongoing.
3. Amazon goes all-in on designing its own chips for AWS use
This is arguably much bigger than the news that the company has officially secured Thursday Night Football. Similar to Apple, Amazon is phasing out its dependency on Intel as it goes in-house. AWS customers currently have access to Amazon’s Graviton chip and pay 20% less than AWS services that use Intel’s chips. There’s no doubt that this will have a ripple effect across the $400 billion semiconductor industry.
4. Fintech startup Stripe nearly triples its valuation in latest round of funding
The payment processing startup raised $600 million in its latest fundraising round, rocketing its valuation to $95 billion. Second to Ant Group, Stripe now has the highest valuation out of all private companies and has been backed by famous investors like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. This is likely Stripe’s last fundraising round before it goes public and could very well be the largest IPO ever.
5. Boeing is no longer allowed to perform its own safety checks anymore
After finding issues with four 787 Dreamliners, the FAA is now requiring Boeing to have its own inspectors to do the final inspection on new planes before they can be delivered to customers. Despite this move resulting in the delayed delivery of 80 brand new 787s, Boeing’s stock is doing exceedingly well this year and is currently up 54.28% YTD.
ICYMI: Elon Musk changed his job title and dropped a new song
Elon Musk is no longer Tesla’s CEO. Yes, he’s still the chief within the company, but his job title is now Technoking of Tesla. He wasn’t the only executive to experience a bizarre title change. Tesla’s CFO Zach Kirkhorn has been granted the title Master of Coin – definitely a reference to the company’s recent $1.5 purchase of Bitcoin.
Even more random was the techno banger he dropped on Monday. A song about NFT’s, he initially planned to sell it as an NFT before having a change of heart. Elon Musk is a really weird guy and we can’t seem to stop mentioning him in this newsletter.
Why people invest in cryptocurrencies
In short, cryptocurrency, or crypto, is a virtual or digital currency that runs on a decentralized network via blockchains. This system of mathematical and computation encoding and decoding is spread across many units, such as computers, that manage and record transactions.
However, while cryptos run on some of the most secure virtual platforms in the world, these “currencies of the future” are unregulated, untraceable, and operate wholly outside any central banking system. As a result, they’re perfect for peer-to-peer lending and financial speculation – but they’re also highly volatile and subject to use in illicit activities.
Cryptocurrency, or crypto, is all the rage in recent news feeds – and it’s no wonder why, with Bitcoin up 65% in just two months. As investors, we feel that it’s essential for everyone to have a basic grasp on these alternative assets, from where they came from to where they’re going.
Here it is, in all of its complex, complicated glory: Cryptocurrency, the down-and-dirty edition.
What is a cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency typically doled out as “coins” or “tokens.” While their makers vary widely, the general idea is the same: to create a decentralized network of currency that bypasses central banking systems and government regulations.
Cryptos are somewhat new on the financial scene – Bitcoin was only established in 2009. There are now thousands of altcoins, or alternative coins, though none of them have reached Bitcoin’s level of success – or their security features.
How do Cryptocurrencies Work?
Cryptos work via blockchain technology, in which a decentralized system is spread across many units. These units – typically computers with special processors – then manage and record transactions. Blockchain systems are unique in the virtual space because their infrastructure means they’re incredibly secure (though not infallible, as we’ll discover shortly).
Crypto’s Main Players
Although there are thousands of altcoins jostling for a spot on the big stage, only a handful have made the big time since 2009. You’re most likely familiar with Bitcoin – after all, it was the first, and the first to be legitimized. At this time Bitcoin has a market cap of over $1 trillion and is currently being sold for $58,906.70 apiece.
But Bitcoin isn’t the end of the story. These are the altcoins who have risen through the ranks not only to recognition and legitimacy, but truly massive market caps, as well.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
BCH is one of the earliest and most successful “hard forks” off Bitcoin. This newer model increased the currency’s storage capacity from 1MB to 8MB per blockchain, thereby allowing for more – and speedier – transactions.
- Per-token value: $535.15
- Market cap: $10 billion
Litecoin was launched in 2011 by former Google engineer Charlie Lee. It can be decoded with consumer-grade CPUs and has both a faster block generation rate and transaction confirmation than Bitcoin. As a result, it’s risen in popularity with some merchants.
- Per-token value: $202.66
- Market cap: $13.45 billion
This well-known Bitcoin alternative is a decentralized software platform designed to circumvent downtime, fraud, and third-party regulation. This currency hopes to become a “suite” of decentralized financial products, such as banking, loans, and insurance.
- Per-token value: $1,821.89
- Market cap: $209.46 billion
Cardano is a standout cryptocurrency from an ex-Ethereum founder. This research-based currency involved engineers, mathematicians, and no less than 90 expert papers on blockchain to launch. Its decentralized platform claims to provide interoperability for blockchains, legal contact tracing, and even voter fraud.
- Per-token value: $1.28
- Market cap: $40.93 billion
Polkadot is a unique cryptocurrency created by another core founder of Ethereum, Gavin Wood. This system provides a framework for different systems to intercommunicate, allowing developers to build non-native blockchains in their native system. They were the first cryptocurrency to introduce the idea of “shared security.”
- Per-token value: $38.38
- Market cap: $35.31 billion
Binance Coin (BNB)
Binance Coin is known as a utility cryptocurrency, as it operates as a method of payment for Binance Exchange trading fees. Binance Coin is currently one of the most widely used exchanges in the world in terms of trading volume.
- Per-token value: $267.57
- Market cap: $41.33 billion
Tether is a first-in-class cryptocurrency known as a “stablecoin,” a type of cryptocurrency that pegs its value to an external reference point. (In this case, Tether is tied to the value of the United States dollar.) The result is a more stable currency that lets users transact in traditional currencies with minimal volatility and complexity.
- Per-token value: $1.00
- Market cap: $39.23 billion
The Current State of Cryptos
Since its inception, the fight around cryptocurrencies has produced several arguments for and against their perpetuation. Some argue that cryptocurrencies are unstable, illegitimate, and lead to illicit activities. On the other hand, many proponents believe cryptos are simply “the way of the future” and their existence will have to be addressed eventually.
But even as this debate rages on in the foreground, cryptos have continued to gain real traction in our minds and wallets. With cryptocurrency prices booming and major companies such as Microsoft drifting toward digital currencies, the issue has evolved from if they should exist to how to regulate them now that they do.
Cryptocurrency: What’s Good About It?
Cryptocurrency is often referred to as the “currency of the future.” These are the main benefits:
- Proponents argue that virtual coins even the playing field while removing unnecessary intermediaries
- The systems on which cryptocurrencies are built are some of the most secure in the world
- Blockchain provides a transactional space that is anonymous, untraceable and nigh-unhackable
- Proponents argue that banks reduce the value of money via inflation, so this would remove Big Money’s control over our money supply
Besides these practical uses, it’s a massive investment vehicle. As cryptos fluctuate in value, they can lead to massive gains for both retail and institutional investors. Some institutions even offer the ability to bet on digital coins rather than buying them outright.
Cryptocurrencies are not backed, insured or regulated like traditional currencies. This leads to issues such as increased volatility (just look at Bitcoin’s five-year performance), fraud, theft, and scams.
Because there are no legal protections in place – and no way to track transactions once they’ve occurred – it’s almost impossible for victims of market downturn or illicit transactions to receive reparations.
Additionally, despite blockchain’s implicit security, there are still ways for hackers to steal a person’s identity – and even their coins. Most cryptocurrencies are stored in online exchanges – trading markets – and digital wallets. These places store data such as wallet ID numbers, identifying information, and of course, the coins themselves. As such, they’re prime targets for experienced thieves, who can make away with millions in minutes…without a trace.
The Bitcoin Boom
While many cryptocurrencies have headlined in recent months as speculation about their future becomes commonplace, none have featured so frequently – or with as much furor – as Bitcoin.
In the first two months of 2021 alone, Bitcoin reached an unprecedented height of $58,000 per coin. This record-breaking rally reached a market cap of $1 trillion before correcting down a full 18% just three days later.
Bitcoin’s rally can be partially explained by increasing interest from retail and institutional investors, particularly as the financial consequence of the 2020 pandemic droned on. Increasing interest by major companies seeking to cash in on the cryptocurrency trend has also played a part in Bitcoin’s success.
Tesla, for instance, has played an outsized hand in Bitcoin’s sudden surge, with CEO Elon Musk tweeting frequently on the subject.
Following the announcement that the company would soon accept Bitcoin as payment, Tesla also recently disclosed in an SEC filing that it purchased $1.5 billion in Bitcoin, increasing a stake valued at 3% of the company’s cash-on-hand at the end of 2020.
And they’re not the only ones. Since October 2020, several international organizations have set plans in motion to accept cryptocurrency as legitimate payment. These companies include giants such as PayPal, Square, and MicroStrategy. Even financial institutions like JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley have recently expressed interest in trading cryptocurrency as prices have continued to surge.
The bottom line
It appears that cryptocurrencies are here to stay – at least for a while. The continuous entry of institutional players, from billionaires like Elon Musk to companies like Microsoft and PayPal, has increased both public interest and crypto’s financial legitimacy. Furthermore, the more people that make use of these currencies, the more stable they are likely to become as liquidity and utility increase and volatility – hopefully – decreases. Only time (and government regulation) will determine if such changes are here to stay.
For more info about cryptocurrencies, check out our full “Investing Explained” resource in our Learning Center
Take part in our upcoming Discord AMA with crypto expert Michael del Castillo on March 25, at 2:30 p.m. EST
Michael will be answering questions about all things crypto. Before he joined Forbes as an Associate Editor, he was a staff reporter at blockchain news site CoinDesk. His coverage includes the use of cryptocurrencies and extends to non-cryptocurrency applications of blockchain in finance, supply chain management and digital identity.