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IRA and 401(k) Contribution Limits Are Increasing in 2019 – Here’s How to Take Maximum Advantage

In great news for those saving for retirement and looking to grow their investments, Americans will be able to contribute more to both their IRA and 401(k) in 2019.

The Internal Revenue Service announced that the 401(k) limit was up $500 from $18,500 in 2018 to $19,000 in 2019.

This increase applies to the 401(k) plans as well as 403(b) plans, most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.

If you’re over 50, that’s even better news, as the the catch-up contribution limit for employees 50 and older is $6,000, which is the same as last year, but it does mean that this year those employees can put as much as $25,000 ($19,000+$6,000) in their 401(k) plan this year.

When it comes to IRAs, the Internal Revenue Service is lifting that contribution limit as well. Individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, see their first bump in six years, to $6,000 up from $5,500 in 2018. Again, investors older than 50 can save as much as $7,000 in an IRA by utilizing the catch-up contribution limit, which, this year, remains at $1,000.

IRAs and Compound Interest

Obviously, via the magic of compound interest, younger workers are poised to benefit even more if they max out their contributions.

The impact of the new IRA contribution limit is even bigger for someone who is younger. For someone at the age of 35 with $100,000 in their IRA so far, the extra decade of $6,000 annual contributions until age 65 results in a portfolio worth more than $2,700,000. Under the old contribution limit, the same investor would have been missing out on an extra $82,000 in their account.

Most Americans Miss Out on Retirement Benefits of 401(k)s

While the raised limits are great news, many Americans are expected to skip taking advantage of it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that only about 54 million American workers put any money at all into a 401(k) plan in 2015. Compared to the 150 workers on file that year, those numbers aren’t great.

Financial firm Vanguard said that only ten percent of participants dropped the max into their 401(k) contributions in 2016, which itself was a drop from 12% in 2013.

Bitcoin IRA Allows Account Holders to Transfer or Open Retirement Accounts

While not all Americans have an employer-sponsored retirement account, the ones that do often don’t contribute to it, either because they don’t know that they should – or because they can’t afford to do so.

Whatever your particular situation is, you can learn about the benefits of directing your retirement funds into Bitcoin IRA, as well as applying to start a new account, or transferring your existing account.

Five High Profile Crypto Adoptions in 2019

While most of the cryptoverse in 2018 has been dominated by the bear market, some industry experts are optimistic looking ahead to 2019.

And there’s plenty of reason to be. There are a number of high profile crypto adoptions in various stages, from planning to in progress to done deals. Each one of these moves digital currency a bit closer to wider, mainstream adoption.

Here’s a look at five ways cryptocurrency is finding its place in 2019 and beyond.

Binance Announces Users Can Pay For Crypto with Credit and Debit Cards

The largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance, recently announced a move that makes it easier for anyone to buy cryptocurrencies.

In late January, the exchange announced Thursday that it partnered with Simplex, a payments processing firm, to allow Visa and Mastercard holders to purchase bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and XRP. Those currencies can, in turn, be traded for more than 151 other tokens on the exchange.

“Building fiat gateways is what we need now to grow the ecosystem, increase adoption and introduce crypto to more users,” Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said in a statement. “The crypto industry is still in its early stages and most of the world’s money is still in fiat.”

The adoption isn’t comprehensive just yet, however. Six U.S. states are not yet supported, among them New York, Georgia, New Mexico, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Washington.

Overstock Goes All In on Blockchain

It’s safe to say that Partick Byrne, founder of Overstock, is bullish on cryptocurrency.

Byrne, Both Overstock and Byrne, have deep ties to crypto and blockchain technology. In 2014, the retailer was among the first to accept Bitcoin. Ever since, the CEO and founder has been vocal about the potential of crypto and blockchain.

Even more recently, Bryne has stated that he believes that decentralised, stateless cash will be part of the larger future of humanity.

Referencing Overstock’s efforts to integrate the underpinning tech into its platform, Bryne stated “We think we’ve got cold fusion on the blockchain side.”

If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.

Fortnite Begins to Accept Crypto

There are few things more popular than the online, “battle royale” style game Fortnite. There are more than 125 million users worldwide. The vast majority of them are under 18, and it’s been said – only half jokingly – that the user base knows more about crypto currency than most adults.

In the first week of of 2019, that was evident when the game briefly accepted the cryptocurrency Monero. According to Holiday 2018 consumer reports, youngsters were keen on using a cryptocurrency as a payment option – instead of cash – on Fortnite merchandise store.

The game relies on micro transactions for revenue, and putting that Monero logo in front of all those young eyes in the Fortune online store surely made an impression. Fortnite’s CEO removed the option after a few days, claiming that it had been added by mistake.

Still, the cat was out of the bag. “That’s some pretty awesome adoption,” a user said in the Monero sub-Reddit. “It’s a fantastic exposure of millions of people who might ask “What’s that groovy M? And why is it better than regular payment?”

Bitcoin Accepting Venues Explode in Number

The infrastructure necessary to accept Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere, and in fact is only getting stronger.

According to, the number of venues that accept Bitcoin and other currencies increased by 25%, to 14,137 in 2018. Alongside that, Bitcoin ATM installations absolutely bursted through the stratosphere, increasing by 98%, to grand total of 4,108 in 2018, according to

A good number of those several thousand locations that accept crypto include increasingly big names like sandwich giant Subway, as well as an airline that can, quite literally, take crypto to the moon, Virgin Galactic.

Facebook Develops New Coin for WhatsApp Transactions

In addition, the Ethereum Constantinople hard fork will also occur on February 27. Hard forks can be controversial depending on their circumstances. All one needs to do is look at the recent bitcoin cash fork that occurred in November 2018 to understand, and volatility can often increase following the establishment of a new chain, thereby leaving room for ether prices to move up in early or mid-March.

The biggest item worth noting is that February 27 is when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to finally make its decision regarding a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) submitted by the joint venture VanEck SolidX. These companies have been working to get a bitcoin ETF approved since March 2017, though most early attempts have proved fruitless.

A Long Journey Concluded?

Facebook acquired messaging app WhatsApp in a high profile trade. The social media company paid $19 billion dollars in exchange for the app and it’s whopping 1.5 billion users. It’s inside that ecosystem that Facebook plans to develop a coin for money transfers using the app.

Initial details are scarce, but the word is that the currency will be in the class of stablecoins, and focus on targeting the remittance market in India, considered a sphere of influence for Ripple and their XRP coin, who boasted of holding a near fifty percent market share earlier in the year.

In contrast to the investment-focused assets like Bitcoin and others, stablecoins provide a more consumer-friendly landscape for digital transactions. And it’s no doubt that with Facebook going all in on its own cryptocurrency, it’s a simple matter of time until other internet behemoths follow suit. Tweetcoins, anyone?

Hopefully, with more widespread adoption in 2019 and more investors in the mix overall, the bear goes back into hibernation.

Why Now May Be the Best Time to Invest in Crypto

Everywhere we look, crypto prices are falling. In an industry that once seemed unstoppable and hellbent on rapid growth, things have taken a quick – and nasty – turn…

Time to Pull Those Wallets Out

Which is probably why now is the perfect time to buy. It may seem like cryptocurrency has run its course and that its future is in permanent disarray, but there’s always another side to the coin, and those who invest now might experience some serious comfort down the line.

First things first: prices are the lowest they’ve been in nearly two years. Any stockbroker or investment expert will say that it’s important to buy when prices are low. Heavy drops in crypto prices mean assets are now more available.

Second, while prices may have fallen considerably over the last 14 months, developments in the crypto space continue to rapidly occur. Blockchain-based applications and related products continue to make their way into the financial market and beyond, suggesting demand amongst consumers hasn’t diminished. As more and more products enter the market, the bigger the industry could become.

Big Things Happening in Crypto

Eventually, institutional players and similar figures are likely to see that the blockchain and cryptocurrency space isn’t going anywhere. Thus, they’ll feel inclined to get involved, which will give this industry the legitimacy it needs. This legitimacy can only lead to growth, which could pave our way to a market once again dominated by bulls. Granted you bought in when prices were low, you could see your investments spike and your portfolio take on a more appealing status.

Among some of the major developments we’re witnessing in the crypto space is the introduction of Bakkt, a program established by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Starbucks and Microsoft. Bakkt is a platform designed to ease the process of accepting cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services by retailers.

Are Trust and Demand Growing?

In addition, organizations like Fidelity Investments are establishing their own cryptocurrency custody divisions. Fidelity’s will be known as Fidelity Digital Asset Services, and it is allegedly set for release in March 2019. At 72 years old, Fidelity has primarily kept its hand out of the crypto space until now, offering customers largely traditional trading options such as stocks and bonds. This new branch will provide the firm’s clients with alternative ways of investing in cryptocurrency, suggesting a strong (and growing) interest in digital money amongst everyday traders.

An important factor to remember is Fidelity’s age. The idea that a long-established investment firm of Fidelity’s reputation and prowess could enter crypto is not just a sign of huge demand; it’s likely to start a trend. Fidelity’s involvement in crypto could lead other firms to potentially follow suit to satisfy their customers. As more and more companies take this route, cryptocurrencies will grow stronger, and with that strength may come higher prices.

Prime Events in Early 2019

This February is also set to be a huge month for crypto and could potentially lead to hardcore results for current investors. Per the “January 2019 Crypto Volatility Report” released by institutional broker-dealer SFOX, February 2019 is set to bring several new developments to the arena that could cause prices to explode.

Among those factors are the expirations of futures contracts. CBOE bitcoin futures will expire on February 13, while CME bitcoin futures will have their final trade date on February 22. From there, the process will begin again, but volatility tends to increase when these contracts expire, which means current prices have as much chance of jumping in the coming weeks as they do of falling further.

Another Fork in the Books

In addition, the Ethereum Constantinople hard fork will also occur on February 27. Hard forks can be controversial depending on their circumstances. All one needs to do is look at the recent bitcoin cash fork that occurred in November 2018 to understand, and volatility can often increase following the establishment of a new chain, thereby leaving room for ether prices to move up in early or mid-March.

The biggest item worth noting is that February 27 is when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to finally make its decision regarding a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) submitted by the joint venture VanEck SolidX. These companies have been working to get a bitcoin ETF approved since March 2017, though most early attempts have proved fruitless.

A Long Journey Concluded?

It wasn’t until summer of last year that the SEC began seeking both public and professional opinion regarding the benefits of a bitcoin ETF. The organization later announced it would make an official decision in August, though the process has been consistently delayed.

Granted the SEC does approve the ETF on schedule, legitimacy for the currency and its industry will be further solidified, and prices are more than likely to explode throughout the crypto space.

The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index also suggests that starting this month, cryptocurrencies could be headed for a major price rally based on the recent closing values of major assets like bitcoin and ether. With all this in mind, now may be the best time to put a little money into crypto and watch it expand into something fantastic.

Bitcoin Cash

Development in Crypto Is Exploding Despite the Price

Cryptocurrency prices may be in the gutter, but how is the industry holding up? According to some sources, the answer is “surprisingly well.”

A Little Background

Digital currencies experienced solid bull runs in 2017. Bitcoin, for example, surged to nearly $20,000 by December of that year, while currencies like ether would spike to nearly $1,400. Unfortunately, the good fortune wasn’t built to last. Beginning in January 2018, prices started falling faster than anyone could have anticipated, and they haven’t let up since.

In November 2018, bitcoin dropped to the mid $3,000 range and lost roughly 80 percent of its overall value.

Things Are Stronger Than They Seem

With news like that, it might be easy to assume that businesses and investors alike would steer clear of crypto and label it a massive failure, but truth tells a different story. Blockchain – the “energy” behind cryptocurrencies – stands as a popular new form of technology that continues to attract developers everywhere.

Last August, ConsenSys – a blockchain software company stationed in New York – produced a list of 40 new Ethereum-based applications available for use. At the time, Ethereum had fallen in price by well over $1,000 and was trading in the low $200 range, yet the currency’s blockchain remained one of the most attractive in existence for the creation of new apps and digital tokens.

Killer Applications Built on Blockchain Are Coming

Among the applications available was a web browser known as Brave. Developed by Brave Software in 2015, the browser implements a blockchain-based advertising system that gives users control over which ads target them. Users can choose the ads they view while performing searches and are subsequently rewarded with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) – the official cryptocurrency of Brave – depending on their decisions.

The goal of Brave is to give internet users more control and ownership of their private data. Versions of the browser were released in late 2018 for the Android and iOS phones, as well as Mac and Windows-based computers.

A New Kind of Coin…

Ethereum is also paving the way for new stable coins that could potentially make volatility a thing of the past. A stable currency is one that’s pegged to a reputable asset or fiat money, such as gold or the U.S. dollar. Thus, its less susceptible to market threats like inflation. Many institutional players have been hesitant to get involved in cryptocurrencies thanks to their fluctuating prices, but stable coins are designed to alleviate some of the worries that come with crypto investing.

Among these currencies is USD Coin (USDC). As an ERC-20 token, USDC is compatible with Ethereum smart contracts. The currency is a joint venture between U.S.-based exchange Coinbase and peer-to-peer (P2P) payments company Circle and is programmed to be compatible with all United States money transmission laws.

Other stable coins built on the Ethereum blockchain include True USD (TUSD), Paxos (PAX) and Gemini Dollar (GUSD), the official currency of the Gemini Exchange in New York. All these coins are regulated, transparent and fully audited, allowing them to provide many of the same banking services and trade abilities as traditional finance institutions and bringing a higher level of legitimacy to Ethereum and the cryptocurrency space.

Video Games Revamped by Blockchain

Ethereum is also paving the way for new gaming experiences with applications like Gods Unchained and CryptoKitties. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, both platforms give collectors, gamers and crypto fans something to enjoy.

CryptoKitties, for example, is one of the first examples of blockchain technology being utilized for leisurely purposes by offering players the chance to buy and sell virtual cats they’ve bred themselves. Released in 2017, CryptoKitties experienced the height of its popularity in December of that year. Activity surrounding CryptoKitties clogged the Ethereum Network; transactions exploded to an all-time high, causing Ethereum’s speed to slow down significantly.

Gods Unchained is similar in that allows players to collect special items, only this time, the products are digital trading cards – not cats. Players purchase and sell cards accordingly with the goal of building the most powerful decks they can. These decks are then used to declare war on other collectors via video game settings, with winning players earning in-game rewards.

A professional tournament will be held later this year. The last person standing will be eligible for a $1.6 million prize accumulated partially from the company’s ongoing deck sales.

Seeing Money Differently

But it isn’t just decentralization and blockchain power that speaks to the true testament of cryptocurrency. Many are still intrigued by the prospects of digital money and the change it can bring to the globe’s financial infrastructure. Last December, bitcoin was at its lowest point in over 15 months and was trading for about $3,400. The currency had undergone a stagnant summer and fall season after dropping to the $6,000 range and remaining there for roughly five months. Though small declines and spikes would occur along the way, nothing lasted long, and bitcoin always managed to find its way back to the $6,000 comfort zone.

After bitcoin fell to just over $3,000, December brought news of a startup in Sydney, Australia. Known as, the company had developed a new cryptocurrency debit card that stored both bitcoin and ether tokens. Customers could then use these cards at bitcoin ATM machines in their areas or at participating retailers. A linked bank account proved unnecessary with the card, and customers could enjoy its services without inducing fees.

Despite the sinking prices of both bitcoin and ether, CEO Danny Ariti says that the number of users has grown faster than anyone could have expected.

“We’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response, and the uptake has been far beyond our expectations,” he stated in an interview with “The card program has given us some great insights into just how broad of a demographic this technology attracts. We’re seeing applications from hobbyists and professionals, some as young as 18 or as old as 80. The market never ceases to surprise us, and it’s great to see such a broad range of people making use of our platform.”

So, What’s Attracting People?

Ariti says his team is now working to expand the card’s capabilities by adding more digital assets to its repertoire. He commends that while crypto prices were best in 2017, they prevented people of limited financial means from entering the space and taking advantage of the industry’s benefits.

Now, however, he says that prices have been lowered to where more people can feel relaxed, which explains the growing number of new entrants to the market despite the ongoing bearish conditions.

“We’re receiving a large amount of inquiries, which is refreshing as we’re seeing interest and an increasing number of new adopters,” he explains. “The recent price drop has had a surprisingly positive effect in that it is allowing those who were priced out of the market during December 2017’s bull run to enter the market at a price point they feel comfortable with.”

Bakkt Exchange & Fidelity’s Custody Can Be Massive For Crypto: Here’s Why

At press time, cryptocurrency prices are trapped in a downward slump that has seemingly lasted more than 13 months. Beginning in January 2018, bitcoin – which had previously been trading for over $19,000 – began experiencing drops that ultimately caused the currency to lose over 80 percent of its value and slip into the $3,000 range last November. Bitcoin went from a year of consistent gains in 2017 to some very big losses, and thus far, the trend has refused to let up…

Big Things Keep Happening

But that hasn’t stopped developments in both cryptocurrency and blockchain from entering the market. Among the biggest ones that enthusiasts have shown excitement for are Bakkt – a new trading platform designed to ease conditions for retailers willing to accept cryptocurrencies as payment – and Fidelity Investments, who’s new crypto custody division has opened for business.

First introduced last August, Bakkt has endured something of a “rocky” debut. Though rumors swelled in October 2018 that the platform would emerge for business the following month, things remained on hold until last January, when Bakkt launched its bitcoin futures trading.

How It All Works

The project is a joint venture between the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), coffee king Starbucks and leading software company Microsoft. Bakkt is slated to provide new scalable trading options for institutional players interested in cryptocurrencies, along with regulated custody services to properly store customers’ BTC funds. By attracting institutional investors, Bakkt may bring bitcoin a level of legitimacy it’s only dreamed of and usher in waves of new money that could potentially lead the bulls back to the crypto pasture.

Bakkt will also allow retail players to have greater stakes in digital assets. While customers will not actually purchase items with cryptocurrencies, Bakkt will convert these assets into fiat to alleviate the threat of volatility and enable corresponding sales.

Some Added Benefits

Bitcoin sold on Bakkt will be added to custody, ensuring funds remain safe and secure. Bakkt futures contracts are also alleged to be settled within 24 hours, meaning whatever bitcoin is purchased is usually part of one’s stash the next day.

All this could bear huge potential for the crypto market. For starters, the bitcoin futures daily volume for both CME and BCOE combined is hovering at around 9,000 BTC. Institutional volume could expand greatly through Bakkt to rival even the totals held by global exchanges. In addition, investors could transition their activity from OTC markets to Bakkt given the latter’s stronger clarity and security regulations. This can lead to less volatility and greater liquidity.

Bakkt will also offer regulated initial coin offerings (ICOs). ICOs became a major source of concern in 2018. Many have proven fraudulent or phony over the last 12 months and have resulted in more than $500 million worth of investors’ funds being stolen. Thus, organizations like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have taken a much firmer position in the establishment of ICO regulations and are dishing out some big punishments to companies that don’t play by the rules.

Bakkt is slated to attract more capital funding through ICOs by enforcing stricter laws surrounding trading and selling practices.

A New Way to Trade Crypto

On the other side of the coin is Fidelity, which is also slated to assist the cryptocurrency market through the release of its new trading division devoted to cryptocurrencies. Known simply as Fidelity Digital Assets, the company will offer institutional players custody services similar with those of Bakkt. It will also provide professional advice and a fully-regulated crypto trading platform.

Fidelity’s crypto branch came to fruition last October. While it only covers about five percent of the $7.2 trillion in assets the company presently handles, that amount still surpasses $350 billion.

Paving the Way for the Future

BKCM CEO Brian Kelly believes that Fidelity could set two trends. The first is that it will attract more institutional players to the field with the appeal of hedge funds, endowments and pension plans. Fidelity is giving a “stamp of approval” to an otherwise widely speculated asset class, which could alleviate some of the fear and hesitation amongst professional traders.

The second is that other investments firms may decide to take on cryptocurrencies and offer similar services to their own customers, which could expand the market even further. Kelly explains, “Custody has been a very big hurdle, and having somebody like Fidelity put their stamp on it and say, ‘yes, this is a new asset class and we’re going to custody this’ – I believe they even said they have some insurance… That is a step closer.”

Is Ripple About to Partner with SWIFT?

Cryptocurrency analysts have been contemplating a Ripple/SWIFT partnership for the better part of two years. While some are committed to the idea that both platforms remain serious rivals, others are confident the two will eventually join hands and expand on each other’s technological capabilities.

What Put These Ideas in People’s Heads?

Last October, Ripple announced plans to attend the Sibos Conference. The event occurred in Sydney, Australia, and was hosted by representatives of SWIFT. Sibos features some of the biggest leaders in finance discussing technology and strategies for expanding the globe’s digital economy. The event spawned further rumors that both companies were brewing something big in secret.

However, neither venture has officiated plans to work with the other party. In fact, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse recently denied to Bloomberg that his company has any intention of partnering with SWIFT in the future, citing SWIFT’s inability to remain focused and up-to-date regarding the latest technology. He claimed SWIFT is not blockchain ready, which could ultimately get in the way of product development…

Working Behind the Curtains

Once again, there are whispers this could change. In late January, SWIFT took one step closer towards blockchain adoption by announcing that it would launch a proof-of-concept (PoC) gateway known as GPI Link that could allow the blockchain software firm R3 to connect SWIFT payments. The news came by way of the company’s CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt, who sat right next to Brad Garlinghouse on a joint panel at the Paris Fintech Forum.

Garlinghouse has commented that Ripple executes cross-border payments – just like SWIFT – but on a blockchain basis, which makes them a direct competitor. In addition, Garlinghouse claims that Ripple’s cross-border system xRapid is considerably faster than SWIFT, sometimes requiring only two minutes or less to initiate payments. He was also critical of SWIFT for being too “centralized,” and it sounds like a joint effort between both ventures is not meant to be.

Connecting the Dots

However, R3 has confirmed that SWIFT’s GPI is integrating Corda Settler, an open-source application designed to help users settle transactions with cryptographic proof. Traditional monies can be exchanged for cryptocurrency and vice versa, though at press time, the only virtual currency available for payment settlement through Corda is XRP, the official asset of Ripple.

This is again leading observers to speculate on whether Ripple and SWIFT will ever set aside their differences and work with each other, though it has not yet been confirmed whether SWIFT will utilize the crypto-based abilities of Corda. Leibbrandt has commented that problems often stem between banks and organizations that work in crypto due to ongoing volatility in the market, and thus he remains wary of XRP.

We’re Just Too Fast!

Garlinghouse fired back at these statements, claiming there was no risk of volatility considering how fast Ripple can initiate payments.

“I hear people talk about volatility, and I feel like they’re propagating misinformation,” he stated boldly. “Mathematically, there’s less volatility risk in an XRP transaction than there is in a fiat transaction.”

Adding even more fuel to the “rumors fire,” Garlinghouse has mentioned he is open to hiring Leibbbrandt – who is retiring from his position with SWIFT this summer – as a future member of Ripple’s growing team.

Behind the Cryptocurrency Dip: How Crypto Companies Are Coping

The bear market of 2018 shook the industry from top to bottom. The great shake out revealed some of the weaker hands among casual investors, and forced the hand of others near the top: a number of crypto companies began to lay off staff, though the numbers, comparatively, were still better than in traditional industries.

Other companies went in the opposite direction and expanded staff, generating revenue by loaning cash for crypto, finding a way to remain profitable while avoiding the strategy of doubling down and buying the dip.

While crypto companies are tight lipped about the way their dealing with the bear, experts have ideas for how they can make the most of it.

Eric Piscini, the CEO of Citizens Reserve and the former blockchain lead for Deloitte, had some ideas for them. Writing for Coindesk, Piscini shared some strategies for ways that crypto companies could ride out the dip while positioning themselves – and the rest of us – for the inevitable return of the bull.

Investing At the Bottom

Piscini is of the opinion that now’s the time to buy the dip.

“If we haven’t reached the solstice of the crypto winter yet, we’re very close,” Piscini said. “Brighter and warmer days are coming soon. The early days of 2019 are the time to make bets on the best tokens and the best teams. I call it the new Rockefeller moment.”

Better Core Tech

The CEO also said that, as painful as it was, this was a much needed reminder that the point of crypto and blockchains isn’t the lambos and rides to the moon.

Right now, Piscini said, should essentially be treated as the equivalent of a rebuilding year for the industry.

“It may have taken a bear market to drive this point home to some, but blockchain is not about getting rich tomorrow,” he said. “We need to pay more attention to improvements in performance and scalability and pay less attention to new projects. #BUIDL is the new #HODL.”

A Killer Consumer App

Is there such a thing as the Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook equivalent of a crypto app? We don’t know yet, and that’s an issue. We know what Blockchain can do, Piscini says, but he also asks: where’s the app that proves it?

“We’re still looking for the product that will bring blockchain’s value to the non-tech, non-business consumer audience,” says Piscini. “I’ve tried a few apps that purported to be killer apps, but the experience was so bad I wonder if the developers thought killer apps were supposed to kill their users. I survived, and I’m hoping for more and better next year.”

Ethereum Co-Founder Says Next Wave of Crypto Value Won’t Be Built on “Hype”

Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder, believes that crypto is about to undergo a dramatic evolution.

“The next wave as of crypto adoption is not going to be built on hype because the hype has basically already come,” Buterin recently said in an interview with alternative investment firm  Smart Valor. “It has to come from really useful applications and things delivering value to people”

The Outlook for Crypto in 2019

Speaking against the backdrop of the recent crypto bear market, Buterin said that looking ahead to 2019, crypto is going to be begin deriving value form utility, noting that despite the slowdown, interest is still high and the space is expanding.

Buterin noted that the regulatory market is “friendly” to crypto and continues to grow ever more so, adding also that “The space definitely keeps growing and at this point, it’s looking like it’s just huge…people in all of the different universities get interested in the technology,” referencing the recent spike in classes offered by top universities across the United States.

There’s a reason this interest is exploding. A recent Qriously survey of nearly 700 college students conducted for Coinbase found that almost ten percent of them had already taken a blockchain course, and that more than a quarter of those students planned on taking a course about the technology.

That’s because it’s becoming clear that training in blockchain nearly guarantees future employment.

Blockchain is the Future of Industry

Campbell Harvey, a Professor of International Business at Duke University, says that students are beginning to recognize that blockchain is the future. “If you’re graduating from law school it’s a tough market these days,” said Harvey. “However, the law students that are trained in blockchain, they don’t need to apply anywhere. People are just asking them to join their firms.”

The use of blockchain is becoming ubiquitous across a variety of industries. It’s even showing up in places we don’t traditionally associate with high technology, like food safety, travel, and government. As the applications for blockchain widen grow, Buterin suggests, the value of the currencies associated with it have the potential to rise as well.

Unexplored Potential

Investopedia says of blockchain that “ the technology could far outpace cryptocurrencies themselves in terms of its overall impact, and that the real potential of blockchain is only just now being discovered.”

So far, the most common use of blockchain has been associated with cryptocurrency, and for that reason it’s likely that the investing world will encounter blockchain technology more often in the future, and find more applications for it. Indeed, as institutional investors like Bakkt make their way into the market, the value of blockchain and the crypto it supports will only become more apparent.

As blockchain begins to underpin alternative investments, gets mainstreamed by major corporate backers, and ties itself ever deeper into our retirement accounts, the usefulness – and the value – of the technology can only grow.


Could Ethereum Reach $1900 by End of Year?

In a note to clients, Tom Lee, managing partner and head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors and former J.P. Morgan Chief Equity Strategist, made the prediction that Ether could trade as high as $1900 by the end of the year. Lee, who believes Ethereum has struggled this past year due to a lack of confidence in its technology roadmap, increased competition, and “panic selling,” said that Ethereum “about to stage a trend reversal and rally strongly.”

With a couple of months left in the year, Lee’s claim remains yet to be seen. But there is, undeniably, a lot of exciting recent innovation and development surrounding Ethereum in recent weeks and months. Let’s take a closer look.

Increased Mainstream Adoption

Ethereum, which primarily functions as a platform that supports smart contracts and decentralized applications, is becoming more and more widely adopted by various industries.  In particular, smart contracts, or a computer protocol that directly controls the transfer of digital currencies or assets between parties under certain conditions, have begun to demonstrate their applicability in fields ranging from healthcare, to education, to real estate.

In the healthcare space, hospitals, insurance companies and patients can share network access while still retaining data security and patient confidentiality, and schools of medicine are beginning to fund research to help them utilize blockchain.

Elsewhere, institutes of higher learning are beginning to issue digital diplomas and certificates to combat costly fights against falsely claimed, unmerited credits, and in the real estate market, the technology makes property records registrations as well as transactions, easier, and can be used to perform deed transfers and speed up deals.

“It has become essential for individuals to own and control all elements of their digital identity,” writes digital payment expert Mirela Ciobanu. “Individuals need a secure encrypted platform where they can store their identity data and easily control access to it. Currently, many industries, from finance to government, and associations are trying to create and support this.”


Commitment to Innovation at San Francisco Blockchain Week

Recently, there has been an increase in activity in Ethereum development. In the last week, there have been over 1,200,000 changes, or commits, to the Ethereum code. According to industry watchers, “Ethereum is far surpassing bitcoin, and any other crypto, by the number of commits on GitHub…as well as the number of developers.”

Indeed, the Ethereum developer community is hard at work. On October 5-7 San Francisco welcomed the world’s largest Ethereum hackathon, ETH San Francisco. The hackathon, described as “an opportunity to work alongside the developers, industry experts, advisers, and companies who are making the infrastructure and applications that will power the new decentralized web,” also included many discussions with industry experts, as well as an interview with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. ETH San Francisco is just one point of San Francisco Blockchain Week from October 5-12, dedicated to blockchain education and innovation.

While the future of Ethereum is unclear after a sluggish 2018, there is a lot of momentum and excitement in the space and good reason to remain optimistic. Speaking earlier this year, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said “Ethereum interests me because it can do things and because it’s a platform,” going so far as to suggest that the company could one day be as powerful as Apple. The future of Ethereum may be unclear given the 2018’s sluggish trajectory thus far, but if all of the hackathons and conferences are any indication, there is a lot of momentum and good reason to remain optimistic.

Bitcoin and the State of Retirement Reports Today

After looking through many studies showing the state of retirement in America today, there seems to be much room for improvement.

The National Institute on Retirement Security came out with some rather concerning statistics in their report released earlier this year, specifically that two-thirds of working millennials have nothing saved for retirement. Meanwhile, according to a Vanguard retirement study, the average account balance of nearly $104,000 was misleading because of a small number of large accounts skewing the average higher, while the median is much lower, at $26,000. And the 18th annual Transamerica Retirement Survey revealed that while 62% of workers are confident that they will be able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle, as many as 56% believe that they have not yet fully recovered financially from the Great Recession and as many as a third expect that they will see a decrease in their standard of living during retirement.

It’s time to expand the retirement savings toolkit and look at additional options, with a focus on portfolio diversification.

Millennials and Retirement: Already Falling Short. From the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Benefits of Portfolio Diversification

Many experts in the financial sector advocate for portfolio diversification as a means of boosting return on investment while also minimizing risk. “For a variety of reasons, people do not understand the value of having a broadly diversified portfolio,” said Barry Ritholtz. “Perhaps they think it shows a lack of corporate loyalty to their employer…But every worker who gets company stock also gets a salary from that same employer. That is a very intense concentration of financial risk. For those workers, diversifying their company stock into broad indexes is a prudent approach.”Furthermore, decentralized assets such as Bitcoin and gold, which are removed from the stock market or any particular currency, act as a hedge against inflation, as well as any political, social, or economic unrest.  And according to research done by Ark Invest and Coinbase, Bitcoin is “the only asset that maintains consistently low correlations with every other asset,” making it a strong choice as an alternative asset in a diversified retirement portfolio.

How Bitcoin IRA Works, the world’s first and largest cryptocurrency platform, allows customers to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for their retirement accounts and store them in a BitGo digital wallet, the leader in multi-signature encryption technology. In 2017 alone, the company processed over $300 million in investments. To learn more about how to diversify your retirement portfolio with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, give one of our IRA specialists a call today at 877-936-7175.