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.

Lira banknotes photo: 1

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.

Sterling photo credit: 1

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.

Moscow downtown photo: 1

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.

Pound photo credit: 1

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).

Peso photo credit: 1