Paxful Overtakes LocalBitcoins in P2P Bitcoin Trading in the United States and Canada

Peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading has been mostly dominated by trading venues such as LocalBitcoins for the past several years, where traders could swap popular cryptocurrencies for U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars, as well as other major fiat currencies using legacy payment processors like PayPal, Moneygram and Western Union.

However, since the start of the year, a new challenger has emerged in the space: Paxful. The service allows consumers to purchase and sell bitcoin anonymously via Amazon, Macy’s, Wallmat and OneVanilla gift cards, in addition to many other online payment systems.

While majority of P2P bitcoin activity in the United States and Canada was conducted on LocalBitcoins in 2017, Paxful has become the leader in the space this year, according to data published by

In the first week of September, Paxful volumes in the U.S. and Canada were double those of LocalBitcoins:

Paxful’s rapid growth in popularity among American bitcoin users is not just confined to the last few weeks, but extends to the beginning of the year, while turnover on LocalBitcoins has been in decline over the same period.

Paxful volumes in the USA:

LocalBitcoins volumes in the USA:

It remains unclear if LocalBitcoins’ new KYC/AML policies, which came into effect in April, had any negative impact on its existing clientele.

Bitcoin photo credit: 1

Lira Surges After Turkish Central Bank Hikes Interest Rates in Defiance of President Erdoğan

In a surprise move on Thursday morning, the Turkish central bank raised its benchmark rate by 625 basis points. The lira surged more than 8% against the U.S dollar, rising from 6.55 to 6.02 lira per dollar - a 2-week high - in under two hours.

The lira took on significant losses in July and August as investors began to have serious concerns over President Erdoğan’s influence on Turkey’s central bank regarding monetary policy, as well as the rising diplomatic tensions between the United States and Turkey.

But today’s strong reaction in the FX markets shows investor confidence in Turkey’s monetary authorities has been restored to some degree.

The central bank also hiked the one-week repo rate from 17.75% to 24%, citing “risks to price stability” and “slowdown in domestic demand.”

President Erdoğan has claimed high interest rates and excessive inflation are a direct result of bad policies by the central bank, however, the bank’s Press Release on Monetary Policy today reiterated its commitment to adjust interest rates as it sees fit:
“The Central Bank will continue to use all available instruments in pursuit of the price stability objective. Tight stance in monetary policy will be maintained decisively until inflation outlook displays a significant improvement.,” said participating committee members.
At press time, the USD/TRY currency pair is trading around 6.09 lira per dollar - a gain of 4.07% for the lira on the day.

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Optimistic Comments From EU's Brexit Negotiator Lift British Pound

The sterling was under pressure last week as conflicting statements on Brexit negotiations were being released to the press by German and British officials.

However, the British pound jumped dramatically against the U.S. dollar today following statements from EU's top Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Speaking at conference in Slovenia, Barnier said:
"I think that if we are realistic we are able to reach an agreement on the first stage of this negotiation which is the Brexit treaty within six or eight weeks."
Forex speculators piled into the pound immediately after Barnier’s comments, pushing the GBP/USD exchange rate to its highest level since the beginning of August:

At the peak of the frenzied rally, the pound was trading at 1.3052, which translates to a daily gain of more than 1%.

But buying pressure eased up towards the end of the trading day, and the the pound finished on Monday with a gain of 0.85% against the dollar.

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Russian Ruble Down Sharply After PM Medvedev Calls for Lower Rates

The Russian ruble was down as much as 2% against the dollar on Thursday, after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for “lower cost of loans” to stimulate economic growth at the Moscow Financial Forum.

Prime Minister Medvedev’s comments are in stark contrast to sentiments expressed by Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina.

Earlier this week, Nabiullina said that the key interest rate - currently at 7.25% - may be raised at the next meeting, which is scheduled to take place on September 14, 2018.

And as Reuters reports, Bank of Russia’s new monetary policy chief, Alexei Zabotkin, who also spoke at the Moscow Financial Forum today, said rates are likely to be raised due to the current economic conditions in Russia.

While today’s two-percent sell-off was mild compared to the previous crashes related to U.S. sanctions, traders were able to push the ruble down to its lowest level in two and a half years (69.6289 rubles per dollar).

At press time, the USD/RUB currency pair is floating around 69.21.

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British Pound Trading Wildly Amid Conflicting Statements on Brexit Demands from Germany and Britain

The British pound surged on Wednesday on news reports that Germany and the UK have agreed to drop key Brexit demands.

The GBP/USD currency pair rallied more than 1.1% following the reports, hitting a weekly high of 1.2983 against the dollar in early trading on Wednesday.

But the sterling lots the majority of its gains later in the day after a contradictory statement came from a spokesman for the German government, who told Reuters that “the government’s position is unchanged” on Brexit.

At press time, the pound is hovering around 1.2897, up 0.32% on the day.

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Argentine Peso, South African Rand Suffer More Losses as EM Currency Crisis Continues

Although the Turkish Lira has been stable above its all-time lows over the past two days, the South African rand and Argentine peso have continued to decline as the emerging market currency crisis shows no signs of abating any time soon.

The South African rand plunged 3.3% against the dollar on Tuesday, hitting a 2-year low rate of 15.38 rand to the dollar. The last time the rand traded this low against the dollar was on June 29, 2016.

Weakness in the rand was mainly driven by a newly-released Q2 GDP figure, which showed South Africa’s economy contracting by 0.7% - a big decline when compared to analysts’ estimates of 0.6% growth.

The Argentine peso took on slightly bigger losses than the rand, trading down more than 4% today to 39.36 pesos per dollar, after Argentina’s Tax Authority reported lower revenues for the month of August (down almost 0.5B from the previous month of 293.89B).

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Moody's Downgrades, Central Bank Liquidity Tightening Push Turkish Lira Down 3%

The Turkish lira tumbled more than 3.00% against the dollar on Wednesday after Turkey’s central bank doubled banks' borrowing limits in the interbank money market, which effectively tightens liquidity:
"In the light of recent evaluations, the CBRT has decided that, to be effective from 29 August 2018, the banks’ borrowing limits for overnight transactions at the Interbank Money Market established within the CBRT would be twice the limits applicable before 13 August 2018.", said the Turkish central bank.
Turkey’s central bank tried to halt the drop of the lira earlier this month by lowering the Turkish banks’ FX reserve requirement from 45% down to 40%, but the lira’s fall accelerated following that announcement.

On a flight from Paris, Berat Albayrak, the financial minister of Turkey, told Turkish media today that he does not see “big risk about Turkey’s economy or financial system.”

But while Turkey's finance minister sees no “big risk,” ratings agencies are already starting to downgrade Turkish banks and government bonds.

American rating agency Moody's downgraded 18 Turkish banks and two finance companies today, citing deteriorating investor sentiment, and a “substantial increase in the risk of a downside scenario.”

At the height of today’s sell-off, the lira was down approximately 3.4% against the dollar, trading at 6.4832 lira to the dollar. At press time, the USD/TRY currency pair is floating at 6.4500.

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Mexican Peso, Canadian Dollar Surge as President Trump Announces New Trade Deal with Mexico

The U.S. dollar took a tumble today as President Trump announced a trade deal with Mexico that would replace NAFTA.

The Dollar Index tumbled to a 16-day low of 94.60, while the Mexican peso was up as much as 1.56% on Monday against the dollar, trading at 18.60 pesos to the dollar.

“We’re going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement, and we’ll get rid of the name NAFTA.,” U.S. President Trump explained.

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The Canadian dollar also gained on Monday, trading as high as 1.2953 against its American counterpart, after President Trump and President Pena Nieto made positive remarks on upcoming trade negotiations:

“It is our wish, Mr. President, that now Canada will also be able to be incorporated in all this. And I assume that they going to carry out negotiations of the sensitive bilateral issues between Mexico — rather, between Canada and the United States.,” said President Nieto.

"Canada will start negotiations shortly. I’ll be calling the Prime Minister very soon. And we’ll start negotiation, and if they’d like to negotiate fairly, we’ll do that.," said President Trump.

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Australian Dollar Gains as Scott Morrison Voted in 30th Prime Minister of Australia

The Aussie dollar made a dramatic recovery on Friday, erasing almost all losses incurred on Wednesday and Thursday, after prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was ousted by Liberal party lawmakers.

Turnbull’s replacement, Treasurer Scott Morrison, defeated right-wing candidate Peter Dutton by just five votes.

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In the first hour following Morrison’s win, the Aussie dollar gained about 0.50% percent against the USD, rallying from 0.7250 to 0.7290.

The AUD continued to rally into the New York trading session, gaining an additional 0.75%. At press time, the AUD/USD currency pair is trading at 0.73307, up 1.13% on the day.

While Morrison's win saved the currency from plunging to fresh yearly lows, it remains to be seen if his leadership and policies will be sufficient to reverse the downtrend of the Aussie dollar this year. On Aug. 15, the Aussie dollar hit an 8-month low of 0.72025 against the U.S. dollar:

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Bitcoin P2P Trading Platform Paxful Sees Rising Volumes Despite Crypto Bear Market

Although the price of bitcoin, as well as many other cryptocurrencies, has been in decline since the start of the year, investor and consumer interest in the space has not plateaued.

Volumes on P2P trading site Paxful, which allows consumers to buy/sell bitcoin via gift cards, as well as PayPal and many other online payment methods, have been steadily climbing this year.

According to data accumulated by, weekly Paxful trading activity in Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States, rose to new all-time highs in July and August:

USA: $21.3 million ATH volume for the week of 2018-08-04

Canada: CAD$1.15 million ATH volume for the week of 2018-07-14

Australia: AUD$617k ATH volume for the week of 2018-07-14

Bitcoin trading activity on LocalBitcoins, the most popular venue for cryptocurrency traders, which began to KYC all of its users back in April, has declined this year in most countries.

However, in countries with a currency crisis like Argentina and Venezuela, LocalBitcoins volumes have continued to grow despite the KYC hurdles.

Argentina: 6 million Argentine peso volume (new record) on LocalBitcoins for the week of 2018-08-11

Rising Inflation and Foreign Investment Lift Canadian Dollar

Encouraging figures from Statistics Canada on Friday gave the Canadian dollar a boost of more than 0.50% against its American counterpart.

According to Statistics Canada, consumer prices rose 3.0% YoY in July. The metric was well above analysts’ forecasts of 2.5%.

Currency speculators and market participants also reacted well to the large increase in foreign investment into Canadian securities, which came in at 11.55 billion for the month of June. Analysts had only predicted 4.91 billion!

The CAD was up close to 0.58% against the dollar at the height of Friday's surge, trading at 1.306 CAD per USD.

At press time, the USD/CAD currency pair has stabilized around 1.3085.

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Retail Forex Brokers Halt Trading in Lira as Turkish Currency Crisis Intensifies

Tickmill, a retail CFD and Forex broker with offices in Europe and the United Kingdom, blocked all of its clients from opening new speculative positions on all TRY (Turkish lira) currency pairs.

In an email to all clients, Tickmill explained that "political turmoil in Turkey" has created "uncertain market conditions."
"We are switching USDTRY, EURTRY and GBPTRY to "Close-Only" mode.," said the email.
Turkey's currency has been losing value since the start of the year due to raging inflation, declining economic output and surging import prices.

And while the central bank of Turkey attempted to halt the lira's plunge on Monday by reducing the currency reserve requirement on domestic banks from 45% down to 40%, the recent sanctions levied on the Turkey by the United States have greatly accelerated the lira's fall.

Just today, the lira dropped 2.70% to a new all-time low of 5.7558 against the dollar. Including today's drop, the lira has lost more than 53% of its value since the start of the year!

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Russian Ruble Tumbles After Details of New U.S. Sanctions Leaked by Russian Media

The Russian ruble suffered significant losses on Wednesday after a Russian news outlet, Kommersant, released full details of a U.S. bill seeking a new set of very severe sanctions on Russia for election meddling.

The new bill aims to impose sanctions on Russian sovereign debt, as well as blocking dollar-based transactions of Russia’s largest banks. Sberbank, VTB Bank, Gazprombank, Bank of Moscow, among others, are named in the bipartisan bill.

At press time, the ruble is down close to 2.5% against the U.S. dollar on the day, trading at a 4-month low of 65.13 rubles per dollar:

While the bill has plenty of biting provisions within it, the Russian economy/government will not feel any of its effects until the House is able to vote in September.

Senior economist & strategist at Danske Bank, Vladimir Miklashevsky, said on Twitter that the ruble will incur significant losses if the bill becomes law.

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British Pound Slides to Lowest Level in 11 Months as Brexit Negotiations Deteriorate

The British pound sold-off on Monday to its lowest level in 11 months amid rising worries over Brexit.

The pound came under strong pressure following an interview of Britain’s international trade secretary, Liam Fox, who told The Times that there is “60‑40” chance of failed Brexit negotiations.

During the interview, Fox also accused the European political elite of putting “theological obsessions” ahead of the economic stability and well being of the union.

Fox’s comments sent the pound tumbling on Monday to an 11-month low of 1.2920. At press time, the GBP/USD currency pair is floating slightly above the day’s lows at 1.2945.

The pound also lost ground against the euro during Monday’s trading session. The EUR/GBP pair closed at 0.89256 - a drop of approximately 0.33% for the pound.

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Turkish Lira in Free Fall as Central Bank Scrambles to Boost Liquidity

In a bid to halt the lira’s plunge, the Turkish central bank lowered the FX reserve requirement on Monday from 45% down to 40%:

“With this revision, approximately $2.2 billion of liquidity will be provided to banks.,” said Turkey’s central bank.

While the unexpected news caught currency traders off guard, briefly halting the sell-off, the lira’s plunge accelerated following the announcement.

So far today, the lira is down 3.8% against the U.S. dollar, trading at a new all-time low of 5.28 lira to the dollar:

Investor confidence in Turkey's economy and currency has deteriorated significantly since the re-election President Erdogan, who has repeatedly called on the central bank to maintain low interest rates, despite surging inflation, declining economic output and rising import prices.

In its last release on July 31, Turkey's central bank revised its 2018 inflation forecast from 8.4% to a whopping 13.4%.

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Bank of England Hikes Rates, Triggers Sell-Off in the British Pound

The British pound slid on Thursday after members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted 9-0 to raise interest rates by 25 basis points to 0.75%.

This is only the second time the BoE has voted to raise the benchmark rate since the global financial crisis.

Although the rate hike was expected by most analysts and market participants, the unanonymous vote was not priced into the currency markets.

Selling pressure on the pound increased substantially following the release of BoE’s Inflation Report - released after the decision - which states that British businesses are still most concerned about the potential fallout from a bad Brexit deal:
“But respondents to the 2018 Q2 Deloitte CFO Survey again ranked Brexit as the top risk facing their businesses, and three quarters of respondents expected Brexit to lead to a deterioration in the business environment in the long term, the highest proportion since the referendum.”
Following the report, the pound sold-off more than 0.50% against the U.S. dollar, hitting at an 11-day low at 1.3126.

Ar press time, the GBP/USD currency pair is only about 0.57% away from breaking the 2018 lows at 1.2957, recorded on July 19.

Lira Plunges To All-Time Lows as Washington Readies Sanctions

The Turkish lira hit fresh lows today against the dollar on reports that Washington is prepared to apply sanctions on entities and individual within Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for imprisoning and using American Pastor Andrew Brunson, among others, as bargaining chips.

Following the news, the lira lost close to 2.0% of its value in a matter of hours. At press time, the USD/TRY currency pair is trading close to the 5.01 level - a new all-time low for the Turkish currency.

While the Turkish lira has been losing ground against the dollar since the start of the year, today's losses are quite significant for currency traders and market participants as the unexpected news pushed the USD/TRY pair through the psychological barrier at 5.00:

According to unnamed Bloomberg sources, the U.S. government is making use of the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016, which allows for selective targeting of corrupt foreign officials.

The U.S. government also used the Magnitsky Act against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and individuals close to him, in April of this year.

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Turkish Lira Trades Lower as U.S.-Turkey Tensions Rise

Turkey’s currency is once again close to hitting new all-time lows against the dollar as tensions between the Trump and Erdogan administrations have ratcheted up.

The lira traded down 0.65% against the USD on Monday on comments from President Erdogan, who accused the Trump administration of waging a “psychological war” regarding the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American who was arrested in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup in July of 2016.

President Erdogan’s accusation came in response to President Trump’s own threats of sanctions on Turkey:

The lira’s losses today small compared to the 3%+ daily crashes the lira suffered in the second week of July, however, today’s drop brings the lira closer to the 4.9734 level - the all-time low from July 12, 2018.

So far this year, and including Monday's losses, the lira has dropped approximately 29% versus the U.S. dollar:

American/Turkish flag image via Viktoria Pickering

Canadian Dollar, Mexican Peso Rise as Trump Auto Tariffs Delayed by New Bipartisan Bill

A bill aimed at delaying President Trump's tariffs on foreign automobiles, introduced by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Doug Jones on Wednesday, gave the Canadian dollar a boost in the second half of the New York Forex session.

In the hours following the unexpected news, currency traders pushed the USD/CAD pair to a low of 1.3031 - a gain of almost 0.80% for the CAD on the day. At press time, the CAD is trading at a 40-day high against the USD.

According to Bloomberg, the bill puts the brakes on Trump's bold 25% auto tariff hike until an independent U.S. International Trade Commission examines the impact the tariffs would have on the American car market.

And Canada's currency wasn't the only beneficiary the bipartisan bill. The Mexican peso also got a boost following the news, closing the day off with a gain of 1.10% vs. the USD. Wednesday's gains also pushed the peso to its highest level (18.66 pesos to the dollar) since May 1, 2018.

Image Credit: Carol Van Hook

Russia's Ruble Crashes 10% in Two Days as Investors React to New Sanctions

Russia’s currency and stock market began the week with big losses in response to the new sanctions imposed on Russian officials with strong ties to President Putin.

The Russian ruble continued its decline in Tuesday’s Forex session, trading down 5.5% against the dollar at the lowest point of the day, before closing off with a 4% loss at a rate of 63.01 rubles per dollar:

At the height of the sell-off, the ruble was trading at a level (63.92 rubles per U.S. dollar) not seen since December of 2016.

Russia’s RTS Index was down more than 4% during the first half of the trading session, but managed to recoup most of the losses in the second half of the trading day, finishing with a small loss of 0.4%.

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European Commission to Invest €300 Million in Developing Domestic Blockchain Ecosystem

In a statement issued today, The European Commission (EC) said it will be bringing heads of state, as well as representatives of EU territories and academics to discuss the development of the artificial intelligence and blockchain industries within the EU’s Digital Single Market.

The press release said the European Commission has set aside €300 million to be invested in the European blockchain space as part of the EU’s strategy to “harness the many opportunities of blockchain and avoid a fragmented approach.”

During the event, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow in Brussels, the EC will lay the groundwork for the European Blockchain Partnership, an initiative designed to support European companies and innovators within the Europen blockchain economy.

“Many proposals still need to be agreed. Europe should move forward, and building on the Digital Single Market, increase investments and foster cooperation in a series of key areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, eHealth and innovation.,” said the EC.

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Canadian Dollar Posts Gains vs. USD on Improving NAFTA Negotiations

The Canadian dollar gained approximately 0.65% on Monday on a more positive outlook on NAFTA negotiations, in addition to a rise in expectations that the Bank of Canada might raise rates again this year.

The loonie also got a boost today from Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, who told CNBC that "good progress is being made on North American Free Trade Association talks."

Additionally, Bank of Canada's first-quarter Business Outlook Survey - Spring 2018, which indicated that “business sentiment continues to be positive,” pushed the CAD to close the day off at a 1-month high of 1.2698 against the USD.

While the survey's tone was positive overall, BofA also pointed that some Canadian companies remained cautious with their sales forecasts due to uncertain trade policies in the U.S., "While firms’ expectations for US economic growth have strengthened further, some cited rising protectionism and reduced competitiveness as factors limiting the impact on their sales.," said Bank of Canada.

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Russian Ruble, Stocks Plunge Amid Fresh Sanctions on Russian Oligarchs and Officials

The Russian ruble crashed approximately 4.2% vs. the dollar on Monday. This is the largest one-day drop since January of 2016, when the ruble hit all-time lows against the dollar at 85.9493.

Monday’s sell-off was largely driven by the fresh sanctions imposed on seven Russian oligarchs and seventeen officials close to President Putin, which were announced last Friday in response to the supposed Russian interference in the U.S. elections, in 2016.

In addition to the currency fall, shares of major Russian firms also lost value during Monday’s trading session, as investors began to digest the knock-on effects of the new sanctions on the Russian economy.

Russia’s RTS Index closed on Monday with a whopping loss of 11.44%. At the height of the sell-off, the RTS was down more than 12%.

The new sanctions could put in jeopardy Russia's fragile currency, which has been fairly stable since April of 2017, trading between 56-60 rubles to the dollar.

The Russian ruble took on big losses between 2014 and 2016 - falling from 33 rubles/dollar in June of 2014, all the way down to 85 rubles/dollar by Jan. of 2016 - as the first wave of sanctions against Russia were unveiled as a response to the Crimean annexation of 2014.

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Turkish Lira Slides to Record Lows as President Erdogan Calls for Lowering Interest Rates

The Turkish Lira dropped to record lows against the dollar today as President Erdogan rejected investors’ concerns, as well as calls for increasing interest rates, over excessive inflation.

The USD/TRY currency pair hit record highs on Monday morning at 4.0757. At press time, the USD/TRY is trading around 4.05. President Erdogan said investors who call for higher interest rates are jealous of Turkey’s economic growth.

Concerned economists and investors have urged Turkey’s authorities to raise interest rate for to taper off excessive inflation in the Turkish economy, however, Turkish monetary authorities have continued to implement various stimulus measures to keep inflation growing.

In a speech in Ankara today, the Turkish president said this:
“Those who say Turkey’s growth rate is excessive are speaking out of jealousy.”
Additionally, President Erdogan stated that unemployment rate will drop below 10% as increased investment results in more jobs and economic output, “We’re talking about an investment-support incentive system, and here, first of all, we need to save investors from these high interest rates.," adds Erdogan.

Although the president has made it a priority to keep interest rates low, currency speculators and investors have been abandoning the Turkish lira in droves. Since the start of 2018, the lira has lost more than 7% of its value against the U.S. dollar.

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