Bitcoin hits record as Mastercard, BNY Mellon embrace crypto

Bitcoin hits record as Mastercard, BNY Mellon embrace crypto

Bitcoin jumped to a record high after Mastercard and Bank of New York Mellon moved to make it easier for customers to use cryptocurrencies.

The largest digital asset rose as much as 7.4 percent to $48,364, surpassing the all-time high reached Monday after Tesla announced it would hold $1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency on its balance sheet. The wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index also touched a record.

Mastercard singled out so-called “stablecoins,” which often peg their value to that of another asset, such as the US dollar. Mastercard has already partnered with crypto card providers such as Wirex and BitPay, but has required digital currencies to be converted into fiat before processing payments for transactions on its network.

Bank of New York Mellon said Thursday it will hold, transfer, and issue bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for institutional customers.

Interest in cryptocurrencies has accelerated yet again as Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, emerged as a central figure for the crypto faithful, supporting arguments among proponents that Wall Street and the mainstream are becoming more receptive to the asset class. Detractors maintain speculators are behind bitcoin’s rise and the bubble will once again burst.

Even before announcing Tesla’s bet on bitcoin, Musk said he was a supporter of bitcoin on a social audio app and made multiple tongue-in-cheek references on Twitter to Dogecoin — a Shiba Inu-themed crypto started as a joke — sending prices soaring.

Mastercard is also “actively engaging” with central banks around the world on their plans to launch new digital currencies, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.

“The announcements from both Mastercard and BNY Mellon confirm the fundamental shift that financial institutions are committing to cryptocurrencies,” said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. “This is great news for further mainstream acceptance with cryptocurrencies and will likely continue to keep the excitement going for bitcoin.”

Twitter has also done some “upfront thinking” around how to handle bitcoin, including if employees and vendors ask to be paid in the cryptocurrency and whether the firm needs to have the digital asset on its balance sheet, CFO Ned Segal said in an interview on CNBC. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has been a long time advocate of bitcoin. Square Inc., which Dorsey also co-founded, has invested in the cryptocurrency.

“These are just the early innings of corporate adoption, as digital currencies are beginning to play a larger role in robust balance sheet management,” said Nathan Cox, chief investment officer at Two Prime, an investment firm specialized in digital asset and derivative strategy management.

While Tesla’s investment of $1.5 billion put the focus on whether more companies will buy bitcoin, the purchase is a drop in the ocean compared to the holdings of America’s blue-chip corporates. The purchase is worth just 0.05 percent of about $2.79 trillion of cash and cash-equivalents held on the balance sheets of S&P 500 members, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Wall Street Bets, the popular Reddit forum at the center of the retail investor frenzy, is talking about cryptocurrencies as well. The unverified Twitter account “Wallstreetbets mod” posted a call to buy bitcoin and marijuana stocks.

Regulatory scrutiny remains a wild card for crypto investors. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, speaking at a Treasury forum for financial sector innovation, warned misuse of cryptocurrencies was a growing problem. Yellen has previously raised concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies in illicit financing.

Source: Boston Globe

Millions of Britons are suffering right now as the economy tanks. Can you help?

Millions of Britons are suffering right now as the economy tanks. Can you help?

Last week I came to the end of 10 days of work focused on the north-eastern town of Middlesbrough. Drawn by the fact that it had one of the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the country, the team behind the Guardian’s Anywhere but Westminster video series had decided to talk to as many local people as possible – about the illness and what remained of the lockdown, but also how they felt about the future.

Via video-conferencing platforms and phone calls, one of the neighbourhoods we focused on was South Bank, three miles east of the town centre. We had been there five years ago, when we heard about the closed down shops and businesses, long-term unemployment and the cruelties of the benefits system. This time around, along with a strong community spirit, all these things were even more evident, but it was clear that even the opportunities to make ends meet by ducking and diving through precarious work and the informal economy were now shrinking fast.

We spoke at length to Tonia Nixon, the co-founder of a local community charity called Tees (Together, Engage, Encourage, Support), who was stepping up work on a clothing bank, and also busy supplying people with such basics as cookers, fridges and furniture. “The people who are struggling now – it’s the people who’ve been self-employed,” she said. “People who’ve always worked. And it’s humiliating for them. The lads round here have always found a way to make money. But they’ve had their legs chopped off.”

Read more at The Guardian.

Bitcoin Could Hit $300,000 In Five Years Even Without ‘Institutional Adoption’

Bitcoin Could Hit $300,000 In Five Years Even Without ‘Institutional Adoption’

Bitcoin bulls are currently out in force, talking up the cryptocurrency amid unprecedented central bank stimulus and quantitative easing.

The bitcoin price, which has failed to hold its ground over $10,000 per bitcoin in recent weeks, has climbed some 30% since the beginning of the year—but remains far from its all-time highs (for the time being).

Now, crypto pioneer Adam Back has predicted bitcoin will soar to $300,000 per bitcoin within the next five years, even without Wall Street’s highly-anticipated institutional support.

“[Bitcoin] might not require additional institutional adoption [to reach $300,000] because the current environment is causing more individuals to think about hedging [and] retaining value when there’s a lot of money printing in the world,” Back told financial newswire Bloomberg.

Last month, bitcoin got a big boost when legendary macro investor Paul Tudor Jones revealed he is buying bitcoin as a hedge against the inflation he sees coming as a result of never-before-seen levels of central bank money-printing.

“It is causing people to think about the value of money and looking for ways to preserve money,” Back said, adding “it’s a difficult environment to get any yield.”

Read more at Forbes

Ethnic minority workers hit hardest by coronavirus job losses

Ethnic minority workers hit hardest by coronavirus job losses

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers in the UK have been hit harder by job losses during the coronavirus crisis than the population as a whole, according to new research.

The percentage of BAME people in employment fell to 67.4% in April from 72.0% in February, a drop of almost 5%, researchers from the University of Essex and other academic centres said.

Comparatively, non-BAME workers experienced a drop in employment of less than 2%, from 81.1% to 79.4%, according to the research based on data from the long-running Understanding Society survey led by the University of Essex.

The research also showed that fewer BAME people who had lost working hours due to the coronavirus crisis had been furloughed on the government’s job retention scheme than non-BAME people in the same situation.

BAME people were also more likely to be behind on payments on their bills after seeing their incomes decrease due to the coronavirus, and they were also more likely to have borrowed money as a way to balance a loss in earnings.

Paul Fisher, one of the academics who worked on the report, said: “The BAME group is very heterogeneous and many questions remain unanswered.

“Which communities are being hardest hit? Can the different types of jobs done by different workers explain the pattern? These are questions which urgently need answering and further research is needed.”

Meanwhile, in the US, data published last week showed unemployment among African Americans and Asians increased despite the overall unemployment rate falling unexpectedly in May.

The report comes as the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked protests around the world, bringing renewed focus to the wider economic inequalities facing BAME people across the globe.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Europe ‘can’t breathe’: Protests continue across the continent in memory of George Floyd

Europe ‘can’t breathe’: Protests continue across the continent in memory of George Floyd

More protests against racism and calling for justice for George Floyd have been taking place on Sunday across Europe in countries like the UK, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Hungary.

On Saturday, large numbers of people took to the streets in the continent to demonstrate in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, some defying restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday’s protests in capitals such as London, Paris and Berlin were the latest in a global wave of anger and revulsion at racism and police brutality, following the killing of black American George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Thousands of people gathered outside the UK Parliament and the US embassy in London to protest against racism, despite official warnings to stay away for fear of spreading COVID-19 infections. Many wore face masks but the density of the crowd made it impossible to observe social distancing.

The rallies were largely peaceful but in the early evening some protesters clashed with police near Downing Street, the prime minister’s residence. Police brought out riot gear and mounted police charged at demonstrators to clear them from the area.

Four arrests were reported and a policewoman was taken to hospital after falling from her horse. Police said her injuries were not life threatening.

Earlier, crowds listened to speeches calling for an end to institutionalised racism. A minute’s silence was observed with many people bending on one knee in memory of black people killed.

More demonstrations took place in Manchester and other cities in England, in the wake of similar protests during the week.

New rallies are planned in London Scotland on Sunday.

Read more at Euronews.

Which shops in the UK are reopening and when as Covid-19 lockdown eases?

Which shops in the UK are reopening and when as Covid-19 lockdown eases?

Many non-essential shopping chains are preparing to let customers back into stores in some parts of the UK as the coronavirus lockdown eases.

In England, outdoor non-food markets and car showrooms were allowed to reopen from Monday 1 June. From Monday 15 June, a much broader range of retailers will reopen their doors, including clothes shops, toy stores, electronics retailers, booksellers, indoor markets, shoe shops, tailors, auction houses and photography studios.

Retailers reopening are adapting their stores to abide by government Covid-19 social distancing and health and safety guidelines.

The precise detail of these measures may vary between different retail chains and the types of store.

You can read the latest government coronavirus guidance for shops (published 29 May) here:

Read more at The Guardian
Check here is a list of shop and restaurant chains that have confirmed plans to reopen – check retailers’ websites to see which stores are reopening near you