NEWS

Ripio Credit Network launches, aiming to attack bank loan fees in emerging markets

Ripio Credit (formerly BitPagos), the project that reached the finals at last year’s TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in New York, is about to launch its new venture. The Ripio Credit Network (RCN) will be public in November and is designed to grow the product and platform outside Latin America, into the fast-emerging developing world.

Born in Argentina, the original idea was to widen financial inclusion by extending credit lending globally, and that idea remains. Ripio Credit now has 100,000+ active users and claims to be the most popular blockchain product in Latin America, with Draper and Boost VC as investors.

The new RCN is based on the Ethereum blockchain’s ERC20 standard and RCN tokens are required to access the ‘RCN network’. Both the wallet and the exchange need to implement the RCN protocol in order to interact with the rest of the agents. The network operates on cosigned smart contracts, thus connecting borrowers, lenders and co-signing agents.

Aside from the usual suspects as competitors, it is also going up against the block-chain/crypto startup Salt. That Denver, Colorado, startup is aiming to create a membership-based business, the idea being to facilitate loans collateralized by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Ripio also wants to cut all the management fees and costs associated with normal banking, and provide people with better conditions. Of course, as we know, traditional banking is regulated by governments, which decide how much it will cost you to loan money. That’s the big issue for emerging countries as the rates and risks tend to be high.

The RCN is designed to scale down the selectiveness associated with traditional lending, connecting lenders and borrowers anywhere in the world and on any local currency. Cutting all the costs and management fees disrupts the current credit environment. The key way this is achieved is by creating a new intermediary agent (the “cosigner”) which neutralizes the lender’s credit risk, and in the case of a default, handles the tools to manage the debt in the borrower’s country of residence.

Sebastian Serrano, CEO, and co-founder says the company has also now raised $5M in venture capital since inception, from the most prominent VC funds like Tim Draper, Pantera, DCG, among others. RCN will also now start the pre-sale of its ICO token.

Chinas three largest bitcoin exchanges will all stop offering local trading

Well, that didn’t take long. Yesterday, China’s longest running bitcoin exchange, BTC China, announced it will suspend its local trading service at the end of this month, and today the country’s two other major exchanges — Huobi and OKCoin — followed suit to say they will cease at the end of October.

The writing was on the wall when The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the Chinese government intended to shut down bitcoin exchanges after banning ICOs the previous week. Government officials then began meeting with exchanges this week to bring about the trading suspensions, a source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch.

While the exchanges will no longer be allowed to facilitate the buying of crypto coins using Chinese Yuan and the trading of coins, they will continue to operate international-facing exchanges and other associated services. Smaller exchanges, however, will be closing for good. Those include Yunbi, which announced in Chinese it will shut up shop on September 20.

The impact of the crackdown sent bitcoin prices falling — with the crypto currency dropping below $3,000 on some exchanges for the first time in a month — but it quickly rebounded and, at the time of writing, it had nearly made up the losses.

As with all things bitcoin, it is difficult to be sure exactly why, but there are plenty of reasons.

Most importantly, China is no longer dominant in bitcoin trader it once was. A series of government bans — most recently a four-month trading freeze due to security concerns — has seen its share of global trading drop from more than 90 percent in previous years to just over 10 percent today. Markets like Japan, Korea, and the U.S. have emerged to account for the lion’s share of global trading volumes, so the impact of this China ban is not as severe as it initially may seem.

The question of the day is all about using online investment services. In other words; Should You or Shouldn’t You? Naturally, as you might well expect with this sort of question, there is no one size fits all answer here. You see, for some people, using an online investment service is a no-brainer, whereas for other people not so much.

Working Definition

Let’s begin with a good clear definition of what we are talking about here so that everyone is on the same page. For the purposes of this article, we will define an online investment service as any sort of investment service where you don’t have the dedicated attention of a specific financial adviser. In most cases, this is done as a sort of lowering the bar if you will so that those with fewer dollars to invest can still benefit from professional advice.

Uh, hmm; not so much. Actually, this is considered to be somewhat of a derogatory term by those in the business. Although you may have encountered the term robo-advisers in and around your Google Searches for investment advice, this phrase is something of a disservice to the industry. For example, the term “robo” implies more of a commoditized, mass-produced product. Yet as you already know, each financial situation is unique. Consequently, it would not make sense to try and use one size fits all approach to your personal finances.

What’s Available?

It turns out that there is a wide range of online investment services out there. Depending on which firm you are looking at, you can receive access to services such portfolio management, asset management, investment advising, financial planning, portfolio analysis, online brokerage services, asset allocation advice and more. The point is that depending on your own personal financial situation, chances are you can locate an online investment advisory service that fits your needs.

How Do They Do It?

Understand that even the best online investment service can only work with what you give them. Most of these firms start the process with an online questionnaire for you to fill out. For example, should you happen to be interested in how best to allocate your assets among the various investment choices available to you, the online questionnaire will have specific questions about your time horizon. Using this information, the adviser will then suggest a model portfolio for you to model based on that timeline.

Using an online investment adviser means you have to take the time out to carefully think through the initial part of the setup.

At the same time, there are some online investment advisory services that offer to select which portfolios that best fit your time horizon, your risk tolerance, that sort of thing. The point to get here is that using an online investment adviser means you have to take the time out to carefully think through the initial part of the setup. Otherwise, the advice you receive, the portfolio models and such will have little to no real meaning.

Real World Examples

Choose a service appropriate for your needs

Here is what this looks like in the real world. Take a look at how it works at the online investment company named Betterment. Betterment begins their process with an online interview process that is specifically focused on your time horizon for specific goals. During this process, you have a wide range of different investment goals to choose from such as wealth building, retirement savings amount, retirement income targets, safety net funding amounts, IRA and more.

Going a step further is another online investment adviser firm named Hedgeable. Hedgeable takes this process one step further. Instead of merely offering you up model portfolios and the like, Hedgeable will actually manage your money for you to meet the goals you have identified. This means Hedgeable will buy and sell securities for your account.

One more step up the online investment service can be found at Personal Capital. Like Hedgeable, Personal Capital will also manage your money for you. Yet Personal Capital takes it one step further. Personal Capital provides wealth management services.


Now What?

The above list is but a small sampling of what is available out there in terms of online investment services. Bottom line is this: if you are the type who doesn’t mind taking care of your personal finances online, then online investment advisers are the next logical step for you. On the other hand, should you be more comfortable dealing with your financial adviser face to face, well that option is still available also.

Bitcoin just passed $4,000

What a day for Bitcoin.

24 hours ago the cryptocurrency was trading below $3,700. About an hour ago it surged passed $4,000 and has no signs of stopping. Its now trading around $4,135.00. For reference, a week ago Bitcoin hit an all-time high as it passed $3,000 for the first time.

Check out the chart below to see what the price has done in the last 24 hours.

So the million dollar-bitcoin question is why now?

Without wasting too much of your Saturday night with detailed analysis, here are a few possible reasons you can tell your friends during brunch tomorrow.

Two weeks ago Bitcoin went through a hard fork, and came out essentially unscathed. Sure, a bitcoin-clone called Bitcoin Cash was created, but its gotten a lot less attention than most people expected. A few days later Bitcoin locked in SegWit, a code modification that fixes malleability issues and frees up space in blocks, allowing for more transactions to be stored in each one.

These two code-related developments have helped boost conference in Bitcoins future.

Another reason the ICO frenzy. The amount recently raised via initial coin offerings have now (at least temporally) topped amount raised via early stage venture capital. Just last week Filecoin raised $180 million in a few hours. Most investors have to convert fiat currency to bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies to participate in ICOs, which could be driving up the price (and providing some investors with their first taste of bitcoin).

Another reason Wall Streets new obsession is bitcoin. You cant watch CNBC for five minutes without seeing a trader or analyst give their opinion which is usually something insanely bullish like it’s going to be the best performing investment of the year. For better or for worse, statements like these are getting non-technically inclined investors interested in bitcoin, some of which are definitely buying coins for the first time.

So what happens next? No one knows. Bitcoin could crash 50% to $2,000 tomorrow or spike to $5,000 and I don’t think anyone who truly knows crypto would be surprised at either option. E

everyone has a different opinion some say the bubble is oversized and should have popped months ago others think that bitcoin is currently just a fraction of what it could eventually trade at.

Whichever camp you fall in, here’s one friendly reminder: don’t invest more than you can afford to lose because if you ask anyone who spent more than a few months in the cryptocurrency world they’ll tell you its a roller coaster.

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