Bitcoin Trading Spikes in Malaysia as the Ringgit Takes a Hit

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Bitcoin’s popularity seems to be rising in Kenya, Malaysia, Russia and Venezuela - at least according to trading data coming out of LocalBitcoins.

Two weeks ago, bitcoin trading on LocalBitcoins in Kenya reached at all-time high of 10,576,927 Ksh, however, for the week ending 2016-07-23, bitcoin trading volumes in the country totaled 10,239,393 Kenyan Shillings - second best week since 2013.
LocalBitcoins volume data coming out of Russia for the week ending 2016-07-23 also showed the second-highest figure at 185,250,939 Roubles.
The biggest surprise this week came out of Malaysia, where bitcoin trading is off the charts. LocalBitcoins volumes for the past week showed a new all-time high of 737,218 Malaysian Ringgits worth of bitcoin turnover in the country.
So, one might pose this question: why is bitcoin so hot in Malaysia?
For starters, the ringgit has been on a losing streak since the US authorities announced a major money laundering and embezzlement investigation into state-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd, which allegedly laundered about $1 billion of the misappropriated funds through banks in the U.S. The Malaysian ringgit dropped about 2.7% last week - the biggest drop since September - due to the negative press surrounding the international investigation, TheMalayOnline reports. Low oil prices are also having a negative impact on the outlook of the Malaysian economy and currency, as Malaysia is Asia’s only major net oil exporting nation.

It really isn’t surprising that bitcoin is increasingly seen as a safe-haven asset. A similar pattern was also observed in Norway. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, the Norwegian krone took a massive hit and LocalBitcoins volume in Norway spiked immediately:
Like Kenya and Russia, bitcoin trading in Venezuela is thriving. Another all-time high was recorded for the week ending 2016-07-23:


Charts source: Coin.dance

Bitcoin Trading Flourishes in Mexico and Venezuela on LocalBitcoins



Data coming out of LocalBitcoins shows that awareness of digital currencies seems to be growing in Mexico and Venezuela.

Mexico:

LocalBitcoins volumes in Mexico hit an all-time high at the end of January, 2016, and Bitcoin trading activity in Mexico has been on a steady rise since then. For the week ending on 2016-07-09, Coin.dance charts show that trading volume in Mexico came in at 1,330,233 pesos, the second-best week since 2013!


Bitcoin’s stellar performance this year and the depreciation of the Mexican peso over the past two years, along with the growing digital currency infrastructure in the country, has undoubtedly contributed to Bitcoin’s rising popularity in the region.

The Mexican peso was trading at 14.5 to the US dollar at the start of the 2015. Today, the USD/MXN exchange rate is hovering around 18.33, a stunning drop in the space of 18 months for a national currency.  Last week, Banco de Mexico raised rates half a percentage point to 4.25%, citing deteriorating inflation and economic growth expectations. 

Given the prolonged weakness of the Mexican peso and how impotent the Mexican central bank has become, Mexico's tech savvy citizens may gravitate towards digital currencies in much greater numbers over the next several moths and years.

Venezuela:

While Mexico’s currency has taken a beating and economic prospects aren’t exactly rosy, Venezuela’s economic misery is on a whole different plane; oil production has plunged to a 13-year low; daily food riots; rolling power blackouts. Food scarcity has gotten so bad that Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced recently a new food supply system, which will be controlled by the country’s armed forces.


But despite the unstable electricity grid and rampant food shortages, trading on LocalBitcoins is growing on a weekly basis in Venezuela. For last week, Coin.dance shows a new all-time high of Bs97,328,710 worth of Bitcoin trades in the country.

Many opponents of digital currencies have claimed that Bitcoin will be useless in a full economic collapse where food and safety become primary concerns, but the dynamics in Venezuela seem to contradict these assertions. Even unstable mobile services and slow internet speeds haven’t dented Venezuelans’ appetite for Bitcoin.

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Forex Robotics CEO Explains the Pepper FX Trading App



Japanese software firm Forex Robotics recently made headlines with their Forex trading application for the Pepper humanoid robot. The company presented their FX prototype app at the Robot Forum 2016, where the firm had a booth. Forex Robotics also showcased three other reference exhibits for the Pepper robot; foreign language translation app; computer security app; robot-to-human communication app.

We recently spoke to Forex Robotics CEO Kazuyuki Takahashi about the company's development efforts with Pepper.

RazorForex: Can you comment on how the Forex Robotics app will utilize Pepper's AI to execute trades on Oanda?

Kazuyuki Takahashi: Oanda and Oanda Japan are very smart FX brokers as they opened thier web API called “fxTrade API”. Pepper's Forex app calls this Web API directly and checks the current price, then sends a buy/sell and close commands to the server. This application is originally made by Forex Robotics, Oanda and Oanda Japan are not officially involved.

RazorForex: What will be the retail price of the FX Pepper app and what kind of support can clients expect from Forex Robotics?

Kazuyuki Takahashi: The Forex application is only a reference exhibit that demonstrates the potential of robots like Pepper. In the future, Pepper will co-work with a back-end system and report to the owner through a front-end device.

RazorForex: How did the idea of using Pepper in the Forex industry come about?

Kazuyuki Takahashi: Currently in Japan, there are several Pepper business applications and my company currently has one Pepper robot. The usual Pepper business applications revolve around communications and dialogue. However, I feel there is more potential in monetizing service robots such as Pepper, so we tried to show this with our reference exhibits.

RazorForex: Is the Forex trading app only available to Pepper owners in Japan?

Kazuyuki Takahashi: This application is only a reference exhibit, so it's not selling in any region at this time. However, Oanda's API is identical in Japan and Canada, and we can also support other brokers if they have a Web API.


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Uber Argentina Begins Accepting Bitcoin Through Swiss Payments Firm Xapo



Uber Argentina sent out a tweet today announcing that all Uber users in the country can start paying for Uber rides with the Xapo card, which can be loaded via bitcoin.

Uber tweets: Pay your trips with Bitcoin! Loading your @Xapo get $ 30 off on your next trip card without code.


While there hasn't been an official statement from the Switzerland-based payments firm yet, Xapo did send an email a few days ago to some customers that outlined the new partnership. Xapo also provided some special discount codes that can be used by new and existing Uber users in Argentina, "Our special alliance with Uber Argentina gives you important discounts. Add your Xapo card in Uber and use this codes to get discounts," reads the Xapo email.
"Now Uber also supports Bitcoin, and with your Xapo card you can ride inside or outside Argentina."

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Existing Uber users in Argentina may use the code "BTCBA" to get a 30-peso discount on their next ride, while newcomers to Uber may use "UBERconBTC" to get 100 pesos off their first ride.

Uber's foray into the Argentinian market has been a fraught with legal complications from get-go. In April, a court in Argentina ordered authorities in Buenos Aires to clamp down on Uber after taxi driver unions staged a protest in the capital, claiming that Uber would effectively kill the taxi industry in the city. Similar protests against Uber have also occurred in Mexico City and Paris.

While local officials in Buenos Aires have officially banned Uber in the capital city, the company's app has been downloaded more than 550,000, with about 37,000 drivers working in the country, according to a recent LaNacion report.

Credit card companies allowing Uber to conduct business in Argentina were also threatened by lawmakers, however, Uber's partnership with Xapo essentially lets consumers in Argentina to vote with their wallets, without interference from local payment companies and politicians. Bitcoin's anti-censorship features are indispensable to forward-looking companies itching to challenge the status quo.

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Important Price Levels on Major Forex Pairs for 07/05/2016



EUR/USD: 1.116 & 1.1038

Since the start of July, the EUR/USD exchange rate has spiked above 1.116 on multiple occasions, but the market could not stay above this area for any length of time. The 1.116 area has now turned into a major resistance zone. If the market continues to drop over the next 24h, the 1.1038 area may now act as support due to its extensive history.



GBP/USD: 1.334, 1.3236 & 1.316

The 1.3236 and 1.334 pivots are still quite relevant, but the 1.3160 area - which was used as support multiple times last week - has now turned into resistance.



USD/CAD: 1.301, 1.292 & 1.2855

The 1.301 and 1.292 pivots are still active. The USD/CAD broke above the 1.292 area quite easily today and this pivot may now start acting as support, assuming there are any retracements over the next few days.



USD/JPY: 1.301, 1.292 & 1.2855

The 101.53 area provided quite a bit of support at the start of last week. Like most of the other JPY pairs, the USD/JPY plunged hard today, but the selling appears to have stalled right around 101.53; hardly surprising!



AUD/USD: 0.75

The 0.75 price level has played a key role since the beginning of July; three times as resistance; three times as support.



EUR/JPY: 114.60 & 113.74

The EUR/JPY was stuck in an 85-pip trading range since the 29th of June, however, today's sell-off pushed the market underneath the bottom of the range and the 113.74 pivot has now become resistance.



GBP/JPY: 136 & 133.80

The pivot zone at 136 has played a major role since Brexit, supporting the GBP/JPY exchange rate on multiple occasions, but this support level was finally broken today. Today's plunge even broke through the 133.80 area, which acted as support on the 27th of June, as well as during the Brexit crash. The 133.80 pivot zone has now turned into resistance.



NZD/USD: 0.7136 & 0.719

The NZD/USD exchange rate is now approaching the pivot level at 0.7136, which was outlined in this FX analysis from last week. The 30-minute chart also shows the technical significance of the 0.719 area; acting as resistance four times; twice as support today.



XAU/USD: 1345 & 1353

While the 1-hour chart doesn't show the importance of the 1345 & 1353 price level, the 15-minute chart reveals how many times these two levels have been used as support/resistance over the past few days.



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Interactive Brokers Warning Clients on Negative Interest Rates on CHF, EUR and SEK Cash Balances



Interactive Brokers has started sending warning emails to clients who are holding cash balances in CHF, EUR and SEK, informing them of "special negative interest rate conditions" on those currencies. While the Benchmark Rates on all currencies are above 0%, IB states in their interest schedule that clients will get charged interest if they hold balances in certain currencies:
"For balances held in CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, JPY or SEK IB will apply an effective negative rate to long balances held."



CHF depositors with a balance exceeding 100,000.01 at IB currently have to pay -1.059%; CZK depositors with balances north of 2,500,000.01, pay -0.12%; EUR deposits in excess of 100,000.01 are charged -0.543%; JPY deposits in excess of 11,000,000.01 are charged -0.3%; SEK deposits in excess of 850,000.01 are charged -0.822%.

For the time being, USD and GBP client balances at IB aren't subject to negative interest rates, but that may change soon. In an interview with CNBC, Stanley Fischer, Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, explained that the Fed has no intention of lowering interest rates in the US. However, the panic in the aftermath of the Brexit vote has strengthened the USD substantially, which will also make it difficult for the Fed to raise rates in the near term.

The situation in the UK is much more volatile than in the US. The unexpected outcome of the UK Referendum has forced the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to hint at monetary easing and a potential interest rate cut at a recent press conference. On July 14, the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, which sets interest rates, will be holdings its first meeting since Brexit.

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Bitcoin Gains Traction in the Nonprofit Space - Heifer International Partners with BitPay



Arkansas-based Heifer International, a nonprofit that aims to reduce world hunger by helping communities become self-sufficient, has started accepting bitcoin donations through a partnership with the largest digital currency payment processor in the US, BitPay.

Pierre Ferrari, CEO and President of Heifer, has been watching bitcoin's rapid proliferation across the globe with great enthusiasm, “Bitcoin is gaining recognition and value globally, so we are excited to offer this universal digital currency as an option for donors,” he said.

Traditional payment methods are limited by fees and every donation has a minimum threshold amount, however, these obstructions do not exist in the Bitcoin protocol, which is something Mr. Ferrari says will "allow Heifer to devote a greater percentage of donations to serving families.”

According to the press release, Heifer will not be receiving the bitcoin donations directly, but will be receiving the USD equivalent directly from BitPay. Chief Commercial Officer at BitPay, Sonny Singh, said the company was "glad to welcome a large nonprofit" to its ranks of clients. Singh also mentioned the "highly engaged and generous" nature of the Bitcoin community, which recently banded together to raise funds for The Chinko Project, an anti-poaching team working on the border of Congo & South Sudan.

"Since bitcoin is as global as the internet, it will also allow Heifer to reach donors anywhere in the world – even if they don't have access to credit cards and PayPal," writes Rory Desmond, Director of Business Development at BitPay.

Heifer International is ranked #42 by NGO ADVISOR, a Geneva-based independent organization that does thorough research on nonprofits. Heifer's announcement will undoubtedly prompt other charities and nonprofits to begin exploring the decentralized and cost-effective nature of the Bitcoin payment network.

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Japanese Software Company Develops Forex App for the Pepper Humanoid Robot



Japanese software developer Forex Robotics Corporation has announced it's developing a trading application for Pepper, a 4ft-tall humanoid robot engineered by French robotics firm Aldebaran and SoftBank Group, a Tokyo-based IT conglomerate. According to today's announcement, the Forex Robotics Corporation trading app will be making use of Pepper's AI capabilities to make trades on the OANDA FxTrade foreign currency trading platform.

The company states that Pepper will be able to execute both demo and real trades thorough the Web API (Application Programming Interface) provided by OANDA Japan. While Forex Robotics is making use of the OANDA foreign exchange trading infrastructure, the company clarified that OANDA is not actively participating in the development of the Pepper trading app.

Two years ago, SoftBank CEO and Co-founder Masayoshi Son unveiled Pepper in Japan. And many international corporations like Nestlé and Nissan have been using the friendly robot helper - which is designed to read people's emotions - in various business environments. More recently, the Pepper robots were put to use in Belgian hospitals, where they assist receptionists and guide patients & visitors. The base Pepper model retails for $1850 in the US.

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Important Pivot Levels on the EURUSD, GBPUSD, AUDUSD, USDCAD, EURJPY, GBPJPY and NZDUSD for 07/01/2016



EUR/USD: 1.1116 & 1.1076



GBP/USD: 1.334 & 1.3236

The 1.3236 pivot - which I outlined in my Forex analysis on June 27th - is still quite relevant. This pivot zone halted the sell-off yesterday, so keep 1.3236 marked on your charts.


AUD/USD: 0.7468



USD/CAD: 1.301 & 1.292

The 1.292 area has propped up price over the past two days on several occasions, however, the market broke underneath this support level today. Unless price makes it above the 1.292 pivot again, the selling might intensify from here.



EUR/JPY: 114.60 & 113.74

The market has been gyrating between 113.74 and 114.60 for the past three days. A break of either of these pivot levels will probably determine the direction of the next trend.



GBP/JPY: 136

I outlined the importance of this pivot in my analysis on 06/27/2016, and this area is still holding up the GBP/JPY price today. The 136 level is the most important area on the chart now; a break underneath this area will probably signal the continuation of the bear market that started with the Brexit vote.



NZD/USD: 0.7136



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