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A Guide to the New SECURE Act for Retirement Savings

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Allowing people to save longer, coupled with the ability to extend the need to tap into retirement funds, are two key aspects of the new SECURE Act that was signed into law in December 2019. Most provisions of the Act took effect on January 1, with the balance becoming effective in 2021. There are 15 different sections within Title I of the Act which will be discussed below.

Title I: Expanding and Preserving Retirement Savings

Section 101: Expand Retirement Savings by Increasing the Auto Enrollment Safe Harbor Cap

Under this provision, the previous 10% qualified automatic contribution arrangement for a retirement plan may now be increased to 15%, except for an employee’s first year of participation.

Section 102: Simplification of Safe Harbor 401(k) Rules

This provision eliminates the safe harbor notice requirement but still enables employees to make or change an election at least once per year. The provision also allows amendments to non-elective status at any time prior to the 30th day before the end of the plan year.

Section 103: Increase Credit Limitation for Small Employer Pension Plan Start-Up Costs

This provision makes it more affordable for small businesses to set up retirement plans. The Act provides smaller employers a start-up retirement plan credit of $250 per non-highly compensated employees who are eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan. The minimum credit available is $500 and the maximum credit is $5,000.

Moreover, a new era of multiple employer plans (MEPs) is likely underway and not just for small-employers. These MEPs allow unrelated employers to join together to create a single retirement plan for all of their workforces. Such MEPs allow for greater economies of scale, thereby lowering plan costs and possibly reducing employer’s fiduciary liability, depending on the MEP.

It should be noted that these multiple employer plans are not to be confused with multiemployer plans, which are pension plans sponsored by two or more unrelated employers under collective bargaining agreements with one or more unions. Many multiemployer plans are in financial distress.

Section 104: Small Employer Automatic Enrollment Credit

If an employer’s retirement plan includes automatic enrollment, a credit of up to $500 is available to them (the credit is available for 3 years). Further, employers that switch their existing plans to an automatic enrollment system will be eligible for the credit.

Section 105: Treat Certain Taxable Non-Tuition Fellowship and Stipend Payments as Compensation for IRA Purposes

This provision does not allow stipends and non-tuition fellowship payments to graduate and postdoctoral students to be treated as compensation nor to be used as the basis for IRA contributions. This provision will allow such students to start saving for retirement and accumulate tax-favored retirement savings.

Section 106: Repeal of Maximum Age for Traditional IRA Contributions

This provision reformed the previous 70 ½ age restriction on IRA contributions and now allows for contributions to be made as long as an employee is still working.

Section 107: Qualified Employer Plans Prohibited from Making Loans through Credit Cards and Other Similar Arrangements

This provision helps preserve retirement savings by prohibiting the distribution of plan loans through credit cards or similar arrangements. This provision ensures that plan loans are not used for routine or small purchases.

Section 108: Portability of Lifetime Income Options

Simply put, if an employee leaves their current employer, they can roll over their lifetime income investment to another 401(k) or IRA. This provision also makes it easier than before for plan sponsors to offer annuities and other lifetime income options to plan participants. Furthermore, the provision provides that 401(k) plan administrators must provide an annual “lifetime disclosure statement” to plan participants. This disclosure statement will show the participant how much money they could get each month if their total 401(k) account balance was used to purchase an annuity.

Section 109: Treatment of Custodial Accounts on Termination of Section 403(b) Plans

Upon guidance from the Treasury, if an employer terminates a 403(b) custodial account, the distribution needed to effectuate the plan termination may be the distribution of an individual custodial account. The individual custodial account will be maintained on a tax-deferred basis as a 403(b) custodial account until paid out.

Section 110: Clarification of Retirement Income Account Rules Relating to Church-Controlled Organizations

This provision clarifies which employees may be covered by retirement plans maintained by church-controlled organizations.

Section 111: Allowing Long-Term Part-Time Workers to Participate in 401(k) Plans

Starting in 2021, this provision will require employers maintaining a 401(k) plan to offer the plan to any employee who has worked more than 1,000 hours in one year, or 500 hours over 3 consecutive years, except in cases of collectively bargained employees.

Section 112: Penalty-Free Withdrawals from Retirement Plans for Individuals in Case of Birth or Adoption

Under this provision, parents may withdraw up to $5,000, penalty-free, from their retirement accounts within a year of birth or adoption for qualified expenses; however, if parents wait longer than a year, they will have to pay a 10% penalty. Furthermore, both parents are each entitled to withdraw $5,000 from their own retirement accounts; a withdrawal is not limited to just one parent. Last, the parents will owe income tax on the withdrawal unless they repay the funds they withdrew.

Section 113: Increase in Age for Required Beginning Date for Mandatory Distributions

Instead of forcing withdrawals (or required minimum distributions – RMDs) upon retired individuals with an IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan at the age 70 ½, the new provision allows such individuals to be 72 until they must begin to make RMDs.

Furthermore, “stretch” IRAs are eliminated under the Act. Non-spouse IRA beneficiaries can no longer “stretch” RMDs from an inherited account over their own lifetime. Instead, such beneficiaries must receive the IRA funds within 10 years of the IRA owner’s death. There are exceptions to the new 10-year rule for particular non-spouse beneficiaries; including, minors, disabled, chronically ill beneficiaries or beneficiaries that are not more than 10 years younger than the deceased IRA owner.

Section 114: Community Newspapers Pension Funding Relief

This provision provides pension funding relief to community newspaper plan sponsors by increasing the interest rate to calculate those funding obligations to 8%. The provision further provides for an amortization period of 30 years; up from the previously provided 7 years.

Section 115: Treating Excluded Difficulty of Care Payments as Compensation for Determining Retirement Contribution Limitations

This provision will allow home healthcare workers to contribute to a retirement plan or IRA by amending Code sections 415(c) and 408(o) to provide that tax-exempt difficulty of care payments be treated as compensation for calculating the contribution limits to defined contribution plans and IRAs.

There is one provision under the Act which increases the compliance burden for plan sponsors. The SECURE Act provides for an increased daily-penalty in the late, incomplete, or inaccurate filing of an annual Form 5500. The daily-penalty has arisen from $25 to $250, and the maximum penalty has arisen from $15,000 to $150,000 per annual report.

The above summaries are meant to provide a general understanding to Title I of the SECURE Act and do not include all details of each provision. Individuals and corporations should consult with a qualified pension lawyer or financial planner to understand how the SECURE Act will affect their retirement plans.

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All Players Earn in CryptoTanks Regardless of a Battle’s Outcome

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All Players Earn in CryptoTanks Regardless of a Battle’s Outcome

The play-to-earn gaming economy continues to grow due to massive public demand.

CryptoTanks, a new game running on Polygon and Binance Smart Chain, leverages NFT technology to empower the players. Bringing a military and shooter-oriented game to the play-to-earn ecosystem is a further expansion of this growing ecosystem.

The CryptoTanks Game Explained

Several play-to-earn blockchain games have proven successful in recent months. Ranging from Axie Infinity to StarAtlas and MOBOX, there is a lot of momentum in the space. Players enjoy the concept of controlling their in-game assets and potentially monetizing them in the future. It is the way video games should be: players control their assets and interact with others through built-in marketplaces to earn passive income.

CryptoTanks follows along the same train of thought, although its game is slightly different. The military theme is a different spin on blockchain gaming, as there is still a limited amount of playable game genres today. However, any game can use blockchain technology and NFTs to empower its players, and there is still much exploration.

The mechanics of CryptoTanks are comprehensible: play the game by using in-game tanks, participate in battles, complete quests, and upgrade machines to increase their characteristics and value. Every in-game item is a non-fungible token(NFT) that players can exchange for real money. As there is no need to buy expensive NFTs to start playing CryptoTanks, the game approaches the free-to-play / play-to-earn level.

Although not everyone will be a fan of the 8-bit gameplay, it is an enjoyable experience and makes it approachable for players of all ages. However, it is worth noting there is tremendous variation in the game, as the scenery will change regularly. Additionally, the game offers multiple game modes, including solo and team-based play. The three game modes can award experience, $TANK tokens or money.

Similarities With Battle City

Upon taking a closer look at CryptoTanks, one can see an overlap with the Battle City game for Nintendo and GameBoy consoles, released in 1985. Certain elements are alike, yet CryptoTanks’s team has added mew locations, missions, tanks, battle modes, decentralized finance and non-fungible token aspects. It is a modern reboot of a cult classic that came out several decades ago.

Through CryptoTanks, players can explore a world of nostalgia while benefiting from new technology development by the cryptocurrecy community. DeFi and NFT introduce new gaming incentives, such as the ability to earn or put in-game assets to work for revenue. Players can still enjoy the iconic 8-bit graphics of Battle City but with a few modern twists. CryptoTanks, as a gamified yield farming project, combines beauty with nostalgia and guaranteed prizes.

What Are The Benefits of CryptoTanks?

Whereas other games would require players to make a significant upfront investment, CryptoTanks takes a different approach. Players can buy NFT tanks from the marketplace. Additionally, players can rent tanks from other players for a revenue share of the winnings. The third option is earning $TANK tokens by playing the game and completing objectives.

The team aims to make CryptoTanks as accessible as possible. The mobile applications for Android, combined with desktop applications for Mac OS and Windows, are a step in the right direction. Launching on iOS would be big, as mobile games are trendy these days. As players earn $TANK tokens for every game played regardless of the outcome, there will always be a way to convert playtime to real money.

The developers plan to introduce more functionality in the future. One of them would make players unique characters with personality traits. Going down that route would create a unique experience for everyone, which is unusual in the gaming industry. Whether that is feasible or not is a different matter. Assuming it is, there will be different types of classes, yet no two players in the same class will have the same experience.

Closing Thoughts

It is interesting to see more game types in the play-to-earn blockchain universe. The majority of current games are fantasy and RPG-themed, yet there are dozens of gaming genres. Combining that genre with blockchain and NFT technology can lead to innovative concepts over time.

If that experience can be made unique for every player, the industry will likely undergo tremendous growth. Developers continue to push the boundaries of what is considered possible. All of these developments will prove beneficial to video games as a whole, even if not all titles will embrace the play-to-earn model.

 

 

 

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Home Loans With Bad Credit: 3 Key Factors To Help Get Approval

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Taking on a mortgage is no trivial thing, with the debt created typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For bad credit borrowers, the task of getting approved can be extra difficult, but it is worth noting that there are some mortgage providers willing to approve applicants seeking home loans with bad credit.

Of course, securing mortgage approval comes down to meeting the criteria that lenders lay down, and convincing them that monthly repayments will be made without a hitch. Happily, credit scores actually have very little to do with it, providing bad credit borrowers with a window of opportunity.

The factors relate to income and debt-to-income ratio, and so long as these matters are addressed satisfactorily, the mortgage provider is extremely likely to grant the home loan application. But what are the factors and conditions that applicants need to be aware of?

1. Bad Credit Is Not Important

The biggest mistake applicants make is to think that the credit rating they have is a hugely important factor in the approval process. It is not, and in fact only affects the interest rate that is charged. So, those seeking home loans with bad credit can feel confident of getting the funds they need.

The reality is that if the credit score is very low, the interest rate on the mortgage is going to be high. This means two things. Firstly, the credit score can affect the affordability of the deal, thus impact on the chances of securing mortgage approval.

Secondly, it means that improving your credit score can have a positive impact, lowering the interest rate and thus helping to make the home loan more affordable.

2. Securing Better Terms

Since, the scores are linked to existing debts, the best way to improve credit scores is to clear those debts. That way, the score rises and the chances of getting a home loan with bad credit are improved.

The best way to clear those debts is to take out a consolidation loan and pay them off. The original debt is replaced by a new loan, but the new terms should make it is more affordable. This can improve the debt-to-income ratio, which in turn greatly improves the likelihood of securing mortgage approval.

Alternatively, trying to clear individual debts bit by bit. This will take a much longer amount of time, and the impact is likely to be less. Remember, a down payment needs to be saved in advance of securing a home loan too.

3. Making the Mortgage More Affordable

The affordability of any loan is the crucial element in the approval process, with the debt-to-income ratio establishing whether it is or not. But since the monthly repayment sum is the key, lowering it can help make the deal affordable. When it comes to a home loan with bad credit, this may be the fastest way to making the mortgage affordable.

Accomplishing this is pretty simple. Just take out a mortgage on a longer term than usual. Extending the term from 30 years to 40 years, for example, can reduce the repayments each month by perhaps $200. And once affordability is confirmed, securing mortgage approval is a formality.

Bear in mind, however, that a home loan with a longer repayment period is going to be more expensive in the long run. The amount or interest paid over 40 years will be more than over 30 years.

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Merits of Credit Cards

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Credit cards have both advantages and disadvantages. Student cards are a new avenue of making money for the banks. They lure students into buying cards to fulfill their spontaneous cash requirements. However, this turns out to be harmful for students. They do not know which card has what benefits and thus, they do not select the right card for use. What is more, interest rates on student cards are higher than those on other credit cards. These give an easy money option for students who are staying away from their parents, in a boarding school or a student hostel. This provides a good source of easy cash in times of a cash crunch. Such cards become heavenly in times of emergency.

How to use it?

A credit card can free the holder from the headache of obtaining funds. It is a good source of all-time money. But, it is necessary to educate students which card is best for them. Student cards invariably have low credit limits. This is done to put a cap on student spending. This will make the student self-dependent and help him/her take his own decisions when it comes to deciding his needs and his wants. Normally, a student spends on books, CDs, food, clothes and electronic accessories. Student cards which are jointly issued with a parent offer two bills, one to the parent and the other to the student. This enables the parent to check the spending patterns of their ward.

Student cards are fairly easy to get. All banks are falling over themselves to issue their own credit cards to students. This normally happens with students who are joining some professional course like engineering, medical, management, etc. Students from these courses generally need cash at a short notice.

Other credit cards

There are other cards for adults, which offer many benefits to the user. Some of these benefits include no surcharge for fuel on certain petrol pumps, discounts on ticket booking on the Indian railway website, discount offers in dining at fine dining restaurants, preferential health insurance, accidental insurance benefits, discounts in film theatres, reward points on spending on the card, discounts on food at well-known outlets like Pizza Hut, Coffee Day, Dominoes, etc. Additionally, some cards also offer doctor-on-call, concierge services, cash back on paying utility bills, etc. There are a lot of credit cards from other banks or financial institutions, all of which have tie-ups with their partners through which they offer discounts to customers. Credit cards are particularly useful when we must cash at a short notice in the time of medical emergencies or calamities.

Conclusion

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How Does a Bond at SA Home Loans Work?

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SA Home Loans launched as an alternative to regular banks in 2001 and has since granted over 100 000 home loans.

Why are they such a popular alternative?  It all started when they launched in that they aggressively advertised the 2% below prime bond.

Wouldn’t you like a bond that is at 2% below prime?  Well everybody would like that, the only thing was that they couldn’t maintain that rate because their interest rates are liked to the JIBAR (Johannesburg Interbank Agreed Rate) which constantly changes.  Jibar is the average interest rate at which banks buy and sell three-month money. This rate is calculated daily by SAFEX as the average rate quoted by the various banks.

So, many people switched their home loans to SA Homeloans and were disappointed to find that they changed their rates after 3 months, but this was mainly due to lack of communication and explanation of how Jibar works.

Does SA Home Loans grant 100% bonds?

The short answer would be no.  Unfortunately they do not offer 100% bonds but only 85% of the value (in the case of a switch) or 85% of the purchase price in the case of a home purchase.

How easy is it to qualify for a loan at SA Home Loans?

Well they approach lending in a very similar way the conventional banks do.  They also do a credit check and affordability check, in line with the NCA.

So, should you go with them?  Well they do offer a good alternative to conventional banks, so why not compare them to what the other banks are offering.  Ask your originator for more details.

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Alternative Student Loan – Do You Need Extra Money For College?

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Are you trying to pay for college and you cannot get enough money from regular financial aid? Do you need extra money for tuition, books, fees, and living expenses? There are ways that you can get more student loan money with an alternative student loan if you know where to look. Here are some helpful tips for you.

First, when you are looking at your budget and figuring out how much money you need for college you should always over exaggerate. This is important because if you just assume you will be fine on what you think you need, then how are you going to deal with an unexpected expense like a car repair or trip to the hospital.

Second, with an alternative student loan you can get extra money to help you so that you do not have to work and you can concentrate on your studies. There are various types of alternative student loans out there for you and all you really need to do is talk to your financial aid office to find out what you can qualify for.

Last, when it comes to any type of loan for schooling it is important that you make sure the loans do not have to be paid back until you have graduated. They should give you some sort of a grace period after graduation before they begin to ask you to pay for your student loans. This is important because you do not want this stress while you are taking classes.

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4 Sources of Free Backlinks for Credit Repair Companies

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Getting you website to rank well for high traffic terms is not easy, especially in financial services industries. According to SEOmoz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors, three of the top 5 ranking factors are related to the links pointing to your website. Having a targeted (links with descriptive anchor text from websites in the financial service category) and diverse (links from multiple root domains) portfolio of links goes a long way towards maximizing your ranking. The problem for credit repair companies, however, is that obtaining legitimate links is difficult. Because of the negative perceptions of the credit repair industry, few webmasters are willing to link to the websites of credit repair companies forcing many to try high-risk link building tactics such as purchasing links, purchasing sponsored blog posts, or resorting to blog and forum spamming.

For sites focused on long term success, these risky link building tactics are a scary proposition because they can result in animosity towards the brand from other webmasters and even worse, a rankings penalty from the search engines. While punishments are not a sure thing, and many companies seem to be able to run in violation of search engine guidelines with impunity, being one of the unlucky ones that do get penalized could take a credit repair company from profitability to irrelevance overnight.

Instead of relying on high risk link building methods, there are a number of community driven sites where you can earn targeted, followed links in exchange for your participation. Four such sites are listed below.

AOL Answers (aolanswers.com)

Recently converted to AOL Answers from Yedda, this site functions similarly to the wildly Yahoo! Answers except that when answering a question, you have the ability to include followed links with the anchor text of your choice. You can create a profile page with links to your site.

Standard spam prevention measures are in place to prevent abuse of the system, but as long as you take the time to provide good information that is of use to the askers on the site, AOL Answers can be a good source of links and traffic.

Credit Repair BEST ( www.creditrepairbest.com )

Much like AOL Answers in premise, this site differs by having more hands on moderation and by being solely focused on credit repair topics. While the site is not as popular, this links you will receive are much more targeted.

Credit Repair Thoughts ( www.creditrepairthoughts.org )

Credit Repair Thoughts is a standard Article Dashboard site that is focused on the credit repair industry and has been modified to provide authors with more SEO benefit when compared to other Article Dashboard sites. The site is diligent about approving only relevant, high quality articles so your links do not get watered down by thousands of spammy or poorly spun entries.

BloggercizeMe.com, MarsBlogger.com, Blog.com, etc.

Built using the WordPress MU publishing platform, these sites allow you to create your own WordPress blogs on their domains. While not a substitute for having a blog on your own domain, creating mini-blogs (half a dozen posts) with links to your site helps you add links from a larger number of domains while still preserving the topical relevancy of the pages being linked from.

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Will Elrond (EGLD) Hit $300 Level Again?

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Will Elrond (EGLD) Hit $300 Level Again?
  • Elrond has been moving in uptrend for the past few weeks.
  • On September 14, EGLD reached its new all-time high.
  • It has the possibility of reaching the $300 level again.

Most of the crypto enthusiasts would have noticed the price surge of EGLD for the past few weeks. The ecosystem has initiated new partnerships and features to give a sweet spot for users. On the other hand, many altcoins are outperforming the mainstream cryptocurrencies even when the market went down.

In such an instance, Elrond is also one fine altcoin which was climbing in a bullish-trend for the past few-weeks. The price of EGLD has also reached its new all-time high on September 14 of $300.56. As of now, the current trading is 25% lower to its ATH, so investors have questions regarding its price. Will EGLD reach the $300 level again in near future?

New Partnerships And Listings

Significantly, through sharding, the Elrond blockchain protocol intends to reach extremely fast transactions. Besides, the platform bills its ecosystem as a new internet technology which includes fintech, decentralized finance, and Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, the firm says that it is capable of managing 1,500 TPS, six-second latency and low cost transactions.

The native token of Elrond is EGLD which is used for payment options. EGLD or eGold can be used to pay network fees, staking, and rewarding. The primary cause for the price surge might be the new partnershi[p with its network. In recent times, the platform has had a lot of partnerships which includes Cooper, a digital gateway provider.

Moreover, EGLD got listed on KuCoin last week, which has also driven some surge in price. Thus, Elrond has new updates frequently like partnerships, listings and so on. Keeping this as a significant update, EGLD would definitely hit the $300 level again very soon.

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Twitter Introduces Bitcoin Tipping Feature on iOS Globally

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Twitter Introduces Bitcoin Tipping Feature on iOS Globally
  • Twitter begins Bitcoin tipping features for creators on its platform.
  • Now it is available for iOS users worldwide, while for Android coming soon.
  • Twitter also plans to explore NFTs on its platform.

Twitter gave an announcement that it has begun with Bitcoin-based payment features on iOS. This would perform as a support for the creators on its platform. As a matter of fact, Bitcoin is aware globally and the firm believes that “Bitcoin operates without global barriers”, so adding features with Bitcoin would reach heights.

Significantly, Twitter uses two options for users to employ Bitcoin tips, in which the first is through a payment application. This is a menu of payment options that integrate Square’s Cash App and Go Fund Me, which allows users to send tips to a Bitcoin address.

On the other hand, the second option is via Strike. It is a Bitcoin payment application that operates on top of the Lightning Network. This network is a layer 2 service that is structured to improve transaction speed and lower the cost of transactions.

Moreover, Twitter states that the Bitcoin tipping feature is available to users who use iOS devices. While this feature will be soon available for Android users also with attractive updates. Consequently, this Bitcoin tipping feature coincides with the firm’s development on the launch of payment products to help users. These products help users to make money via the platform where some products were available for small groups of people previously.

Twitter Plans To Explore NFT

Along with the announcement of Bitcoin tipping on Thursday, the firm also stated the plans to explore NFTs. Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are digital assets that are unique and let users create digital artworks on the blockchain.

However, Twitter uses this as an option to support the creators on its platform with the plan “to explore NFT for authentication”. According to the Twitter executive, Esther Crawford, the platform helps artists who make this art by providing them with a stamp that proves their authenticity. He also states:

“People can track and display their NFT ownership on Twitter by connecting their Bitcoin wallets.”

Furthermore, the firm has announced an update on a number of new products. This plan includes the expansion of the 280-character limit on tweets, as well as a fund to support Spaces creators.

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DeFi Hack: Vee Finance Losses $35 Million To Hackers Following Mainnet Launch

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Vee Finance

One of the major threats to businesses online, not only the crypto industry, is cybercriminals’ attacks. Even though the existing networks are supposed to be safe and secure, attackers often find loopholes to exploit them in the bid to steal investors’ funds. This is not new in the online world. There have been occasions when hackers even forced companies to shut down.

The decentralized finance sector has seen a lot of growth in recent times, but the growing exploitation cases are becoming alarming. Many protocols have suffered such attacks amounting to losses to the tune of millions of dollars. The latest to record such an exploit is Vee Finance based on the Avalanche Blockchain.

Hackers stole $35 million from this protocol a few days after its mainnet went live on the host network. Before reporting this incident, Vee Finance stopped all its transactions on September 20, 2021. The team suspected questionable activities in the network and had to stop rendering services to users.

Vee Finance Lost Money In BTC And ETH

The two cryptos that hackers stole are BTC and ETH. The total number of BTC was 214, while ETH was 8,804. Checking the value of both at press time, the amount was above $35M. According to what the team revealed, the hackers targeted a particular address through the trade contract address of the protocol.

Related Reading | Will Fear And Greed Keep Bitcoin Buyers From The Halloween Effect?

As soon as the Vee Finance team discovered this exploit, they stopped rendering the contract and also stopped all borrowing and depositing functions on the platform.

However, the team hasn’t said much about the reason and how the hackers got access to the address. All we could gather is that they’re fixing the issue and attempting to facilitate a possible funds recovery from the criminals.

In its statement, Vee Finance assured users that its goal is to protect their interests, and that’s what the team will focus on achieving.

Vee Finance To Alleviate Mining Operations

The recently exploited protocol is amongst the emerging DeFi projects that aim to improve the mining features of the sector.

Vee Finance wants to boost processes such as leverage mining, liquidity mining, and transaction mining. September 14 was the day it went live on the Avalanche network. It also launched its liquidity mining feature the same day.

Like many other DeFi protocols, Vee Finance also relies on Chainlink price feeds to get real-time value for digital assets on-chain. This is part of the benefits of using blockchain oracle solutions. Five days following the launch, the protocol garnered a total of $300 million in TVL (Total Valued Locked).

Unfortunately, a few days later, the protocol lost $35 million to hackers. In recent times though, many other protocols on the Avalanche blockchain have recorded such losses.

Related Reading | Mid-Cap Altcoins Hold Onto Highs Better Than Bitcoin And Ethereum

Some of them include Zabu Finance, which lost $3.2 million to hackers, crashing its value to zero. But the Avalanche Blockchain has been growing recently, and even the native token, AVAX, is also rising in value.

The AVAX Token is rising by 10% as per the chart | Source: AVAXUSD on TradingView
Featured image from PYMNTS, charts from TradingView.com

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El Salvador’s Chivo And Bitcoin Adoption In Mindblowing Facts And Stats

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Chivo, a goat over a mountain

Why didn’t we thought of measuring Chivo and Bitcoin adoption this way? Cero anecdotal evidence. Only facts, numbers, and reports from wherever we can get them. What do we know about the Chivo Wallet’s Lightning node? What apps besides the government wallet are the Salvadorans using? Are they happy with them? Investor and blogger Kevin Rooke has a fresh take on El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption and we’re here to summarize it. 

“I wanted a deeper understanding of how real people in El Salvador are interacting with Bitcoin, so I went off in search of other success metrics.”

Related Reading | New To Bitcoin? Learn To Trade Crypto With The NewsBTC Trading Course

However, since “the Lightning Network is private by design,” it’s hard to accurately measure “payment volumes and the flow of funds between various wallets and exchanges.” So, what did Kevin Rooke do? He looked everywhere else for hard data about Chivo and Bitcoin adoption. Let’s explore what he found.

BTC price chart for 09/24/2021 on Exmo | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com

The Chivo Ecosystem Is Growing Fast

To measure the Chivo wallet’s adoption, Rooke used the official information provided by President Bukele. Not ideal, but not uncommon either. It’s easier to get info about the Chivo Lightning node because you can check all the public info here. But wait, why is the Salvadorean government running a Lightning node?

“Just like every other participant on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, Chivo runs a Lightning node. Since Chivo is a custodial wallet, all Lightning payments that Chivo users send to and from other Lightning wallets will transfer liquidity to and from Chivo’s node.”

Through those sources, what did the author find out about the Chivo ecosystem?

  • At the moment, “Chivo’s node has 12.7 BTC of public capacity.” Which is 1,269,941,898 sats.
  • The Chivo node “ranks 83rd among public Lightning nodes.” 
  • At the time of writing, it’s connected to 58 other channels, but this number changes daily.
  • Back to the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, the Chivo wallet remains at the top of the popularity list, “beating all the most popular social media apps like WhatsApp, TikTok, and Instagram.
  • O bet you haven’t thought about this one, “By onboarding over 1.6 million users in just two weeks, Chivo is likely the most popular Lightning Network app in the world today.

What About The Other Bitcoin Apps? Are They Popular In El Salvador?

Ok, granted. El Salvador’s government incentivizes the downloading of the Chivo wallet app with $30. That has to move the needle. However, when it comes to all the other Bitcoin apps, such an incentive doesn’t exist. How are they measuring up to other financial apps? 

El Salvador's most popular apps, September 2021

El Salvador's most popular apps for September 2021 | Source: Kevin Rooke

This infographic says it all:

  • Salvadorans are already showing strong preference for Bitcoin apps over banking and remittance apps on a national scale,” as the graphic shows.
  • To put it in numbers, “9 and 13 of the top 20 apps on the respective app stores” are Bitcoin apps. And Chivo is at number one.
  • Most of El Salvador’s banks and payment processors have user ratings of 2-4 stars,” that’s the traditional banking system for you.
  •  On the other hand, “Bitcoin related apps have user ratings of 3-5 stars.” Even though it’s still early, the facts are the facts. It should be noted that the Chivo app is at the lower end of that spectrum.

Related Reading | How Big Is Bitcoin’s Lightning Network? The Answer Will Surprise You

Besides that, Kevin Rooke identified a truth that might be obvious to some, but has to be said:

“The millions of Salvadorans that have already been onboarded to the Lightning Network aren’t Silicon Valley nerds or early tech enthusiasts. They’re regular people that are making a conscious choice to use the Lightning Network because it saves them time and money.”

And they don’t have to use the Chivo ecosystem if they don’t want to. That’s a fact.

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