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Bubble or opportunity: where are cryptocurrencies heading?

Dubai, UAE has officially become the first country to launch its own crypto-currency. Crypto-currency is basically a medium of exchange created and stored electronically in blockchain, using encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds.

The state sponsored crypto-currency launched by the UAE government is called emCash, and it will be available to the citizens of UAE for government and non-governmental services alike. Dubai for quite some time had made its position clear on blockchain and one of the reasons they have adopted a digital state currency is because of the flexibility, convenience and security the token will provide.

The token apparently has a full legal status tender, as according to Deputy Director General of Dubai Economy Ali Ibrahim’s indication that it will be used “various government and non-government services, from their daily coffee and children’s school fee to utility charges and money transfers.”

Globally speaking of crypto-currency the most famous one yet is the Bitcoin, which emerged in 2008, just after Occupy Wall Street accused big banks of misusing borrowers’ money, duping clients, rigging the system, and charging boggling fees.

However, the Bitcoin has been subjected to a lot of criticism. As first and foremost, Satoshi Nakamoto its founder has never been found. Other than that Bitcoin has been subjected to many hacks, and scams. Not to mention, the transactions are slow and take up to ten minutes for your network to approve.

One of the latest cases regarding fraud and Bitcoin that has recently come forward is of an Emirati man who was looking to sell AED 400,000 worth of Bitcoin currency, was defrauded by an Asian. According to the Dubai Police, after the man transferred the amount, the Asian fled the country. It is estimated that the bitcoin were valued at AED 1.5 million.

Meanwhile in China, authorities have ordered Beijing-based cryptocurrency exchanges to cease trading and immediately notify users of their closure, signaling a widening crackdown by authorities on the industry to contain financial risks according to Fortune.com. South Korea also has decided to ban ICOs due to the fear that cryptocurrency represents a non-productive method of financial speculation.

But as China and Korea are moving away from virtual currency, Japan seems to be cementing its place as the driving force for Bitcoin. On Friday 29th September 2017, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) officially recognised 11 companies as registered cryptocurrency exchange operators.

Earlier in the year, Japan had also passed a law that that recognised Bitcoin as a legal tender with several retailers backing it. Furthermore, Japanese Banks are even considering launching their own digital currency called J-Coin.

The jury is still out regarding Bitcoins, as there are many supporters for the crypto-currency. As Recently, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co, on Tuesday said “Bitcoin “is a fraud” and will blow up”. Speaking at a bank investor conference in New York, Dimon said, “The currency isn’t going to work. You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that people who are buying it are really smart.”

He further on event to say that if any JPMorgan traders were trading the crypto-currency, “I would fire them in a second, for two reasons: It is against our rules and they are stupid, and both are dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, addressing a conference in London on Friday, said virtual currencies which are created and exchanged without the involvement of banks or government, could in time be embraced by countries with unstable currencies or weak domestic institutions.

Asking to not rule out Bitcoins, she supported her argument by saying, “Not so long ago, some experts argued that personal computers would never be adopted, and that tablets would only be used as expensive coffee trays, so I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.”

On 17th December 2017, bitcoin rose to a whopping $19,783. However, as of late, cryptocurrency has had a tough time. Just this past week, the value of bitcoin itself dropped down to 50 percent of its 2017 peak with double-digit losses that were also witnessed in Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin.

With recent fluctuations, one cannot guarantee the rate at which bitcoin is expected to escalate in 2018, however, these are very interesting times for cryptocurrencies as a whole and we can hardly wait to see the heights it takes!

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