Month: October 2021

Cryptocurrency
ArticlesMarkets

Crypto Lobbying Group Pushes for Stablecoin Regulations

Cryptocurrency


The Biden administration has been presenting proposals to regulate stablecoins. One of the largest lobbying groups in the industry is out with a list of recommendations.

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies whose value is tied to fiat currencies such as the U.S. Dollar, precious metals or short-term securities. They are used to reduce the inherent volatility in digital coins. These coins are used by traders to enter and exit trades and are being increasingly used for traditional banking products such as savings accounts. However, there is little regulatory oversight and no FDIC backing.

In a new 17-page letter The Chamber of Digital Commerce, which is made up of top U.S. Treasury, Federal Reserve, and Securities and Exchange Commission officials, argues that stablecoins shouldn’t be regulated in the same way as money market funds or securities.

Instead, the asset class should be regulated as a payment system by standardizing the existing system of oversight using money transmission licensing laws applied at state level. According to the organization, Binance.US, Circle, and traditional financial players Citigroup, Mastercard are among its executive committee.

Perianne Boring is the founder and president of the Chamber. “This is a critical issue,” she stated. She added that if we receive policy recommendations that do not allow stablecoins as payment system instrument operators, “it will be pushed abroad.”

As President Joe Biden’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG), which includes the Treasury, Fed and other major U.S. regulators, has made recommendations to the crypto industry, it is expected that a report will soon be issued with recommendations for a regulatory framework regarding stablecoins.

This week Bloomberg reported The SEC will have significant authority to regulate stablecoins. Yahoo Finance was informed by an official who participated in the report that the SEC would not be given new authority to regulate stablecoins. Instead, the SEC will continue to exercise its existing powers.

The regulators have considered new rules for regulating stablecoins, similar to those that regulate money-market funds and new banking rules.

Since stablecoins are instantaneously settled using blockchain technology, the Chamber suggested that they be classified as digital payment systems rather than investments or securities.

According to the Supreme Court, an investment contract must have an expectation of profit in order to be considered a security. They argued that stablecoins were not intended to decrease in value and that they don’t have an expectation of profit.

Boring warned that if stablecoins were classified as securities, it would limit their use as retail payments.

Yet, Gary Gensler, the Chair of the SEC has used the analogy of stablecoins with poker chips in a casino. He told Yahoo Finance this week that crypto was like the Wild West and asked regulators for more authority to regulate them.

The Chamber suggests that the federal government offer the possibility of obtaining a national bank charter but not force it. Some virtual currency businesses have received preliminary conditional approval from the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.

Industry also opposes the regulation of stable coins as money markets funds. They argue that they don’t look like money market funds and are passive investments. Stablecoins aren’t designed to grow in value and can be used for digital payments.

Given the rapid growth in stablecoin markets, regulators are more aware of systemic risks. It currently stands at $130 billion, an increase of $37 billion from the beginning 2021. Some of the most popular stablecoins are Tether (USDT-USD), BinanceCoin (BNB-USD), and Paxos.

The industry is growing rapidly, but the global stablecoin marketplace at $132 billion represents a much smaller market than the asset value of U.S. money markets funds at more than $5 trillion.

The letter stated that regulators should tailor stablecoin regulations to reflect the risk profiles of different types of stablecoin payment systems.

It stated that federal regulators should consider additional safeguards when stablecoin payment systems are implemented at a significant scale across the country.

According to the Chamber, most stablecoin payment systems are comparable in size to corporate reward programs like Starbucks gift cards or airline miles.

Boring stated that “We are concerned about what we have heard and seen from the PWG thus far.” We believe the notion that stablecoins pose systemic risk is seriously misguided.”

Officials are concerned about stablecoin runs. The issuers have large amounts of short-term securities such as Treasuries and certificates of deposit. Investors could decide to withdraw their money suddenly if cryptocurrencies fall, which could lead to financial system disruptions or even losses.

Boring says, “There is nothing I can point out that would prove that [stablecoins] have any systemic value.”

The Digital Chamber of Commerce focuses on U.S.-based stablecoin issuers such as Circle and Tether. Boring points to the U.S. stablecoin issues like Circle’s reserves, which are almost entirely held in cash and not commercial paper like Tether.

The Chamber also claims that U.S.-based stablecoin issuers are not leveraged and pose no systemic risk. The Chamber doesn’t believe any U.S.-based stablecoin issuer has reached an important size that warrants additional oversight at the moment.

She stated that she didn’t believe there could be a run in such a scenario, provided the disclosures are accurate.

2021 Budget
ArticlesFinance

Budget 2021: Chancellor Heralds the Start of a ‘Post-Covid Age of Optimism’

2021 Budget

Businesses are being urged to take full advantage of fiscal incentives and reliefs to aid their recovery as the economy rebounds from the pandemic and growth forecasts show signs of improvement.

In his Budget Statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has revised up growth forecasts for the economy, which it expects to return to pre-Covid levels by the turn of the year.

Instead of announcing more tax increases, the Chancellor has chosen to focus on increasing spending in areas that will drive economic growth in order to increase the tax take and re-balance the economy in the wake of the pandemic.

 

Business rates reform and retail

The Chancellor announced plans to proceed with reforms to the business rates system by ensuring rent re-evaluation takes place more frequently – every three years from 2023. From 2023, he also announced that businesses making property improvements will not pay anything extra in business rates for 12 months.

For retail, hospitality & leisure businesses, the Chancellor announced a new 50% business rates discount up to a maximum of £110,000.

Rebecca Wilkinson, tax partner specialising in the property and construction sector at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, said:

“These changes could help to kickstart the redevelopment of the high street as retailers in particular start to feel more confident about investing in improvements to their properties, without incurring a hefty business rates penalty for doing so.”

 

Incentives for capital investment and manufacturing

The Chancellor announced that the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) will not drop to £200,000 at the end of this year and will stick at the much higher level of £1 million until March 2023.

Richard Godmon, tax partner at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, said:

“This gives businesses a bit more certainty so they can plan ahead to make investments over the next 18 months. It should also help to bolster confidence at a critical time when many firms are concerned about rising costs and supply disruption.

“Some businesses that had been planning to invest in new machinery and equipment before the end of year had been worried about being able to complete them in time, due to the current supply shortages. This will allow them more time.”

 

Incentives for innovation

The Chancellor announced plans to expand the scope of R&D tax relief to include investments in cloud computing and data costs. He also announced plans to amend the system to prevent activity taking place outside the UK from qualifying for R&D tax relief. He also announced a further £22 million funding for R&D activity, separate from the Government’s investment in R&D tax credits.

Richard Godmon, tax partner at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, said:

“This looks very favourable for businesses investing in innovation across industry sectors as more of their investment activities will qualify for R&D tax relief from April 2023. However, this scheme is still not used as much as it could be and businesses should seek advice about whether they could be submitting claims in the future.”

 

Investing in skills

As part of a package of funding for skills and education, the Chancellor announced a significant increase in funding for apprenticeships. As part of this package of funding, the Government is planning to introduce an enhanced recruitment service to support SMEs in finding new apprentices. The Chancellor has also extended the £3,000 apprentice hiring incentive to the end of January 2022 (it was due to end on the 30th November 2021).

Richard Godmon, tax partner at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, said:

“Employers have been hiring more apprentices and take up of the £3,000 apprentice hiring incentive has been strong. Extending the incentive for a few more months will allow businesses more time to take advantage of the support available and help with sourcing suitable candidates will also be helpful.”

Cryptocurrencies
ArticlesCommoditiesMarkets

Cryptocurrency the Asset Class of the Future

Cryptocurrencies


By William Je, CEO Hamilton Investment Management Ltd

It is a safe statement to make that many financial institutions have in recent years, been torn as to whether cryptocurrencies are an asset class. Analysts are polarised. This is unsurprising as, over time, cryptocurrency went from being widely seen as a conduit for money laundering into a serious proposition for investors. And it’s not just the novices that’ve hopped on board with the cryptocurrency hype, even large, established companies, including the likes of PayPal, which have in turn dabbled with the digital currency as a genuine form of payment.

Major banks have also been rushing to set up crypto-related operations recently, with Morgan Stanley and Bank of America establishing a crypto-focused research division. State Street announced the launch of a dedicated digital finance division. JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are also rolling out crypto trading services.

An asset is anything of value or a resource of value that can be converted into cash. Traditionally, an asset can often generate cashflows: stocks provide dividends, bonds provide coupons, loans provide interests. However, there are assets that do not really produce cashflows but still being considered as an important asset class.

Gold has long been considered to be an important asset class. It has very limited industrial usage and does not really generate cashflows. It is only collective thinking that gold is valuable that makes it so. In fact, this also applies to any fiat currency. After all, money is only a credit that a currency’s user gives to the issuer. For a currency to thrive, trust is the most important factor. The issuer of fiat currencies are sovereign entities which are deemed to be the most trustworthy. If there is a currency or economic crisis that the people do not trust the government, the value of the fiat currency will drop significantly. 

So, an asset’s value will depend on the collective believe and trust of the people dealing with it. It is still at an early stage to conclude that investors believe and trust in the value of cryptocurrency, but the trend is definitively positive.

Throughout the course of history, we have become accustomed to recognising ‘traditional’ asset classes. Many investors regard cash and equivalents, bonds, and stocks as conventional financial investing’s big three. However, ever since the rise to prominence of cryptocurrency – a decentralised means of digital currency – many have started to question, should cryptocurrency be regarded as an asset class? This debate is as important as ever, considering that legislators and policymakers ponder upon taxing crypto in line with other assets in the midst of a tax war we’re witnessing. Currently in the US Congress, rules on tax on constructive and wash sales are being debated. Presently, only traditional asset classes such as bonds are stocks are subject to these rules, but there has been controversy about whether commodities, and digital assets should be considered.

In recent times, society has done a tremendous job of selling us on the idea that replacing our hard-earned cash with virtual currency is a good idea, and for good reason too. It does not take too much research to see that SMEs, family run businesses, corporates, asset managers and more are all investing in the crypto market. There is, however, a hurdle of learning new terminologies and understanding a new process.

As a result, many people shy away from dealing with it. This can seem daunting and is certainly a barrier to entry for some. However, it isn’t a reason to ignore what could potentially be an immensely fruitful asset pot. Professionals must now start to change their perspective on cryptocurrency, particularly in relation to what institutional investors consider to be an asset class and adapt processes to enable us to deal with cryptocurrency more effectively. Gone are the days of solely dealing with traditional assets. We all know that there are an enormous number of crypto assets now available and certainly the pandemic appears to have played a key role in driving increasing demand from both retail and institutional investors.

It’s not a secret that Bitcoin is the most valued – and thereby attractive – cryptocurrency on the market. Experts have largely accredited this by way of its scarcity, drastically leveraging its general understanding as an asset class. Bitcoin in particular benefits from investor confidence because of its snowballing popularity. Just as people in society believe in the value of diamonds because others believe in it, cryptocurrency shares this artificial value.

This further accentuates the power of supply and demand to dictate price. As hype is artificially created as a societal construct, it causes people to blindly jump on the bandwagon. When combining this with our excessive need to want what we can’t have; the forbidden fruit principle, it’s only to be expected that the price of Bitcoin is so high.

Bitcoin was the first scarce digital asset ever created. Imagine that – a digital product with a fixed total supply of 21 million coins. For new coins to come into circulation its new supply is cut in half every four years through a “halving” mechanism, until all 21 million coins are mined. As a result, it is estimated that only 18 million coins have been mined to date. Of those some believe that 5 million are technically lost, 10 million stored in long-term cold storage, and close to 3 million on exchanges. Mankind has always based the value of a currency on this concept of scarcity – that is why precious metals have been the backbone of many economies for centuries.

The growth in the number of cryptocurrencies is changing all of this and the faith put in them by investors is driving confidence in them as an asset class. If investors continue to believe in the value of gold because others believe in it, it will remain an asset.  The difference with cryptocurrencies today, and gold of the past is therefore minimal.

But what is driving that faith, and what is underpinning the huge increases in the value of cryptocurrencies? Well maybe it has less to do with the currency itself and more to do with its ability to store value in relation to other asset classes. Widespread social adoption together with its privacy, security and transferability make cryptocurrencies an important asset class to store values. Maybe it’s time for a bit of a backward glance and look to recent history to explain this. Since 2008 and the unleashing of quantitative easing, there has been an undoubted period of price inflation. And yet if you look to the balance sheets of many central banks one thing stands out – global currencies have depreciated.

Cryptocurrencies don’t follow the same rules as fiat currencies, or even secured assets, instead things tend to get complicated.  Given a cryptocurrency does not generate or support cashflow, it needs to be valued against potential – and critically – future prices. That then opens the door to several different valuation methods and guess what – our old friend gold is back. Amongst the differing valuation models now available – the stock-to-flow method, institutional participation method, and high-net worth participation method – we find the gold valuation method. But let’s not forget this is a new asset class so we would expect investors will consider a range of valuation methodologies to estimate future value. This is, however, not risk free. It is a new asset class, and one that does not exist physically. It is not gold as we are repeatedly saying. Risks do exist and they are well known, and some would argue substantial. We are firm believers that the industry needs to face into – and support – government initiatives around regulation.

But this is not the only risk associated with cryptocurrencies. Swings in the wider macroeconomic environment, risk associated with the technology backbone – everything from electricity supply to bad faith actors, and even an ever-more vocal and powerful economic, social, and corporate governance framework – ESG as it is known. All of which add to the potential risk for crypto as an asset class in its own right.

El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as its national currency, allowing people to use a digital wallet to pay for everyday goods. Many countries are considering to issue their own central bank digital currencies. All these have been telling of cryptocurrencies’ future potential in line with an asset class.

The key question remains; should institutional investors dive in and is it in fact a dedicated new asset class?

The primary reason why some don’t regard cryptocurrency as an asset class is because it’s unclear regulatory environment and high volatility. However, more and more institutional investors use cryptocurrencies to hedge against inflation and currency debasement, and to diversify their portfolios in the pursuit of higher risk-adjusted returns. Over time, institutional investors have been more inclined to consider cryptocurrency as new asset class

Bitcoin is the most famous, most written about and most volatile of the many cryptocurrencies now on the market. Given the number of methodologies available to value not only it, but all digital assets, if anything, institutional interest is only just beginning.

This is without doubt, a new asset class and one that will increasingly gain acceptance and participation of institutional investors as time goes on.

It may not be physical gold, but it could very well be digital gold.

NFT
ArticlesMarkets

What Do Payments Market Players Have to Gain by Acquiring NFTs?

NFT


A ploy to stay in the loop or a strategic decision? Simas Simanauskas, Head of Payments at ConnectPay, has explored further what’s in it for the payments processing giants diving into the NFT trend.

A growing number of businesses are joining in on the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) craze. Not long ago, Visa, the payments processing behemoth, bought a “CryptoPunk” – one of the thousands of NFT-based digital avatars, for nearly $150,000 in the cryptocurrency Ethereum. Following the example, Mastercard has recently entered the market as well by announcing a sweepstake to win an NFT. According to Simas Simanauskas, Head of Payments at ConnectPay, the NFT appeal can be attributed to both staying on-trend, liquidity, and its massive future potential.

The NFT market sales volume grew approximately 182 times in the first half of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020, reaching a whopping $2.5 billion. Seemingly everyone–from sports fan platforms to art houses jumped on the bandwagon. According to Simanauskas, while the actual value of NFTs is subject to much debate, it is widely seen as an appealing market for investment.

“VISA’s move to acquire one of the iconic “Cryptopunks” is nothing less than a message that traditional market players are closely following the crypto-space and looking for ways to capture part of that market,” he stated. “When and how they will do it will very much depend on the overall crypto regulation, as well as how fast the biggest crypto wallets and exchanges will adopt rigorous Know-Your-Customer (KYC) regimes.”

 

Others joining in on the trend

There is little evidence to suggest the NFT boom will dial down anytime soon, which seems to have attracted more payments market players to get on board. For instance, Goldman Sachs has been offering bitcoin futures trading for some time now, while Mastercard has partnered up with Circle to create a solution bridging cryptocurrencies and traditional fiat money for people wanting to spend their digital assets anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

“Since NFT is another use case of blockchain technology that has attracted massive liquidity, there can be no doubt traditional players will seek to stay relevant in the market and will look for ways to cater for NFT traders,” Simanauskas added.

 

Potential threats for the finance sector

However, where large sums trade hands – fraud is rampant. For instance, earlier this year, a hacker exploited security loopholes on a famous artist’s website and sold a fake Banksy NFT for $336,000. Hence, when it comes to potential threats to the finance sector, for instance, money laundering, Simanauskas notes authentication and systems will need to be made more robust.

“One could argue that a person seeking to launder funds would either buy or create multiple NFTs—which can take only minutes to create—list them on various platforms, buy them using illicit funds from multiple anonymous wallets and legitimize one’s funds as a proud digital artist. That’s not an issue of NFT, but rather one of KYC,” Simanauskas explained. “As long as crypto exchanges will do sloppy KYC and platforms will accept payments from anonymous wallets, the blockchain industry will retain its messy image.”

“On the other hand, many big players in the industry are trying to clear that reputation by bringing more transparency and internal regulation into the way they oversee client transactions. While financial watchdogs are trying to make sense of all this and prepare to regulate the crypto-space, it will largely depend on the blockchain community itself how well they can address AML/CTF and security questions that would make people trust and utilize the technology to the fullest.”

Banking Customers
ArticlesBanking

How to Ensure Safe Onboarding Procedures of Clients’ Customers?

Banking Customers

Non-banks have been choosing BaaS (Banking-as-a-Service) due to the difficulty of getting and maintaining a banking license, which calls for meeting all the necessary requirements, like KYC (Know-Your-Customer). Chief Compliance & Risk Officer at ConnectPay, Thibaud Catry, says that it takes mutual cooperation and a strong in-house compliance team to ensure the safety of clients’ customers’ onboarding procedure.

Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platforms have been gaining more traction in the market as they streamline non-banking businesses’ entry into the financial services sector. Alongside the fully developed banking infrastructure, a BaaS provider takes on the responsibility to adhere to any regulatory requirements, including Know Your Customer (KYC), aimed at preventing money laundering activities and helping to better understand the customers, as well as manage risks more prudently.

Since BaaS uses KYC to onboard their client’s customers, Thibaud Catry, Chief Compliance & Risk Officer at ConnectPay, has outlined key aspects necessary to ensure that this process runs smoothly: a strong in-house compliance team and mutual collaboration.

To provide banking services companies must obtain a banking license, which is both hard to get and difficult to maintain. The necessary infrastructure to carry out transactions and handle funds can cost millions, while using BaaS is usually a fraction of the price — making these platforms a more cost-effective solution.

Infrastructure aside, businesses find it hard to enter the financial market due to strict and ever-changing regulations, which also differ depending on where in the world companies are trying to provide banking services. When choosing BaaS, non-bank entities acquire both the necessary framework as well as the assurance that they are running an operation in compliance with mandatory AML requirements and KYC, which becomes the responsibility of a BaaS provider.

The reason for constant adjustments in regulations is to combat constantly emerging new threats — in the case of KYC, their intent is to minimize illegal activities like money laundering and fraud. According to Catry, these developments are part of the various challenges that BaaS face when trying to safely carry out their clients’ customers’ onboarding process.

“Each industry has its own challenges, from geo-risk to new modern payment methods providing an additional level of anonymity and fast-changing regulatory landscape. Compliance professionals need to adapt to these nuances, learn about market changes and the potential risks linked with these transformations. When it comes to KYC, some of the main obstacles while onboarding clients’ customers emerge from poor data and record management, which both result in potential risks going undetected.”

To avoid these mishaps, Catry emphasizes the need to focus on compliance specialists. ConnectPay followed this strategy when creating their own new BaaS product, making sure that these experts made up a substantial part of the team.

“For example, a third of ConnectPay’s staff is just the KYC department. It takes quite a number of qualified professionals to keep up with all of the changing requirements and sort through all of the client’s provided data to make sure that their customers are identified and assessed correctly,” Catry emphasized. “It’s not enough to check and verify a customer just once — a BaaS provider needs to conduct ongoing monitoring to detect any possible risks and react accordingly. This is a detailed procedure which requires a number of specialists at work and, considering the current regulatory environment, financial institutions in Europe cannot afford to work with a weak compliance team.”

Although regulatory procedures are the BaaS’s responsibility, it cannot effectively meet all the necessary requirements alone. In order to make sure that everything is running smoothly, Catry says that mutual cooperation is a must.

“Using an intermediary is always a challenge for any FI. At ConnectPay, the team focuses on working with their partner to ensure that the standards they are applying regarding KYC procedures are at a minimum at the same level as ConnectPay’s standards. When it comes to ensuring the safety of onboarding client’s customers, strong cooperation, direct line of communication, and sharing best market practices is key.”

ConnectPay is constantly investing in its compliance department, making sure that all activities of the company are adhering to regulatory requirements. Additionally, any unethical business practices are eliminated during the thorough screening process, ensuring that all of the company’s customers are working inside the legal framework.

Crypto currency coins infront of a stock screen
Articles

Risk and Opportunity in Today’s Crypto Market

Crypto currency coins infront of a stock screen

 

For millions of new and experienced traders and investors all over the world, cryptocurrency represents one of the best ever opportunities for making a profit. Prices are volatile but still aimed in a general upward trajectory and opening a trading account takes just a few minutes. Before getting started, it’s important for people to catch up with the latest news about regulations, industry developments, pricing trends, and other factors that directly affect their potential for making money in this exciting marketplace called cryptocurrency.

 

How Things Stand in Late 2021

After a couple of extremely up and down years with prices, the major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum, are currently on an upward price surge. For example, market leader bitcoin began 2021 at $29,388 and has since risen to just above the $54,000 mark. That’s an excellent run by any definition. To put that good news into perspective and get an idea of how fast the crypto marketplace moves, consider that bitcoin’s value in July dipped to $29,789 from an astounding high to $63,237 just three months prior. Anyone thinking about entering this niche should be ready for plenty of action in both directions. The most important news in the cryptocurrency world in the second half of 2021 came out of China, a country whose government decided that alt coins were not in the best interest of national security or economic stability.

The translation is that the totalitarian communist regime that runs the mainland doesn’t like the independence and freedom that cryptocurrencies give to those who own them and invest in them. What was the fallout of the national ban? For about a week, most of the major alt coins experienced declining prices but soon shot back up as bargain hunters moved in and bought bitcoin and ethereum at those temporarily low prices. The growing acceptance of crypto coins in most nations, and the fact that the price charts tend to move up over the long-term, are just two reasons that 2021 and 2022 are set to be potentially profitable years for newcomers to the market who want to learn how to trade cryptocurrency in UK, U.S., Asian, African, and other regions.

 

Overview of Opportunities and Risks for Traders and Investors

In today’s unique economic scenario, what are the pros and cons of getting into the alt coin trading and investing world? There are dozens of factors to consider, but the following top the list.

Risk: High Volatility

One look at a bitcoin or overall crypto market chart for the past five years tells the story. The good news is that, in general, values are going up. The not so good news is that anyone who buys, owns, holds, or trades assets like bitcoin and ethereum should be ready for major swings in both directions.

Opportunity: Unlimited Potential Returns

Perhaps the biggest draw of the alt coin sector is the unlimited potential for profits. Unlike stocks, bonds, and even precious metals, cryptocurrency is a relatively new asset class, with untested highs. In just over a decade, the new form of money has gone from a low value investment that only a few people bought or sold, to a massive influence on the global economy. The major coins have attracted the interest of governments, financial institutions, retirement funds, and individuals. Offsetting the downside of volatility, for many, is the fact that a modest stake in crypto today could yield extremely high profit margins.

Risk: Security

It’s become less common, but there are still occasional news stories about this or that alt coin being hacked or suffering a security breach. In the past, several high-profile breaches and hacks have caused coin owners to lose money. Rarely have investors or coin holders lost significant amounts. However, it’s essential to remember that account holders need to secure their coins in hard wallets, which are offline forms of digital storage.

Opportunity: Anonymity

For working people who want to keep their financial business private, there’s no better place to park monetary assets than in one or more cryptocurrencies. While all transactions are traceable and verifiable on the blockchain, the identities of users are kept private. If you like financial anonymity, cryptocurrency can be a smart addition to a personal portfolio.

Risk: Coming Regulation

China was an extreme case in which a national government completely banned the use of all cryptocurrencies. But other nations already have some controls, laws, and rules in place regarding taxation and mining of cryptos. In Europe and the U.S., for example, governments are in the midst of crafting legislation that would require full and detailed annual reporting of all alt coin assets on tax filings.

Opportunity: Ease of Doing Business

Once you add alt coins to your personal account, whether in a soft or hard wallet, it’s easy to use the assets for spending, re-investing, trading, or speculation. Transaction fees are extremely low, there are no taxes on transactions (though your government might legally require reporting and paying tax), and payments for goods and services takes place instantaneously.

Finance Advisor
ArticlesFinance

Top Careers in the Investment Industry and What You Need to Acquire Them

Finance Advisor


The investment industry is one of the most lucrative industries in the world. If you’re looking for a career that pays well and has many prospects, then this may be an ideal field to pursue. However, not just anyone can break into this field. There are specific requirements that need to be met before someone can become a successful investor. In this blog post, we will discuss what careers are available in the investment industry, as well as what qualities are needed to acquire them.

 

Investment Advisor

An investment advisor helps people manage their money and plan for the future. They are knowledgeable in many different areas, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. They can help people decide how to invest their money and which pieces of the market will be a good fit. This career will see you have many meetings with clients as you share your knowledge in the investment industry. Having exposure can make you rank high in your career.

It’s, however, necessary to have the proper documents as this is what makes your profile impressive. Having the appropriate certification is significant. These days, some courses are made specifically for anyone planning to mold a career in investment advisory services. The Series 65 study courses can be challenging as they test you to the limits. This is what helps you become a great investment consultant. Check if there is sufficient series 65 study material for the course you pick. If you want to pass your exams, then you need plenty of resources.

 

Investment Manager

In this career path, you will have the opportunity of helping others make the best out of their investment. Practically, you will oversee their projects to make every operation fruitful. What is most fascinating about investment management is that you have options on the field you want to work in. For instance, you may consider working for insurance companies, brokerage firms, banks, and credit unions.

This job can be lucrative, primarily when you work for a well-established international company. If you want to become a competent investment manager, you need to have the right skills and knowledge. The good thing is that you qualify to become an investment manager with a Business Administration or Finance bachelor of science degree. If you have even worked for years in the industry, it makes you even more resourceful for the job position.

 

Corporate Careers

In every company, it’s the combined effort of the team that will lead the team in accomplishing the overall mission, vision, objectives, and target. This relies on input from the chief executive officers (CEOs) and managing directors (MD). In most cases, these jobs are demanding and may prompt you to work for more than the traditional hours. This is because you need to monitor every corner of the company and ascertain everything is running smoothly. Again, it involves a lot of meeting with other stakeholders, investors, and clients.

For you to become a CEO, your track record and profile need to be remarkable. You need to give an image of someone down-to-earth and unique in handling things. A company’s success rests on your shoulders hence the need for an exceptional person for the job.

There is flexibility in the types of companies you can work for, but primarily your know-how guides a lot in the field you can comfortably succeed. On the other hand, you have the freedom of either working in a public or private company.

The investment industry is growing due to economic factors such as increased demand and better technology. If you want a career in the industry, there are different options that you could consider. For instance, you can become a financial advisor, investment manager, or even pursue a corporate career. What is significant is having the right qualifications as your competency levels matter a lot.

Couple having a meeting with a debt specialist
ArticlesFinance

How Debt Settlement Works

Couple having a meeting with a debt specialist

That mountain of credit card debt is threatening to ruin your financial life if you don’t make a move – and soon. You’ve been hearing about debt settlement, a strategy that lets you skirt the last resort that is bankruptcy. But you’re unsure of what the approach entails. Well, here’s all about how debt settlement works.

 

What is Debt Settlement?

Also called debt relief, debt settlement is when you pay a firm to go to your creditors – typically credit card issuers – to see whether they’d be down for letting you pay a portion of what you owe to have your obligations marked “settled” on your credit reports. Why would they agree to that? Well, because they know your next move could very well be bankruptcy. If you file that, the companies you owe realize that they very well could wind up with nothing.

 

How Does Debt Settlement Work?

You’ll have a consultation with your debt settlement company during which your financial situation will be assessed, and a payment plan will be created. After that, you’ll be asked to make monthly deposits into a savings-like account that you control. That account will be used for leverage during negotiations with your creditors. Once you’ve saved enough, your negotiators will approach each company you owe for a settlement. After each settlement is reach and approved by you, the creditor will be paid through the account.

 

Doesn’t Debt Settlement Hurt Your Credit?

The process of debt relief will depress your credit scores – temporarily. Your scores will rebound and then some once your debts are satisfied and you’ve begun to rebuild your portfolio.

It’s good to keep in mind that your scores aren’t the best now anyway, are they?

 

How Long Does Debt Settlement Take?

Depending on the company, debt settlement takes between 24 to 48 months. That may seem like a lifetime but it’s not nearly longer than the time it would take you to try to pay the debts off yourself. That could literally take … forever. And remember, your financial slide didn’t occur overnight.

Check out recent Freedom Debt Relief reviews for more insight on this and the benefits of debt settlement.

 

What Kind of Debt Does Debt Settlement Accept?

Again, it depends on the company, but it’s usually any debt that isn’t secured – not attached to collateral such as a car or your house. Usually we’re talking credit cards, personal loans, or medical bills, and the like. Whatever the kind of unsecured debt, you’ll usually need around $7,500 of it.

 

How Much Does Debt Settlement Cost?

You can expect to shell out between 15% and 25% of either your settled or enrolled debt. Don’t pay anyone any fees up front – before settlement are reached. Charging such fees is against the law and a red flag that you might be dealing with a scam company.

 

How Can I Avoid Scams?

Yes, the industry does have a few bad actors who are more than willing to take advantage of your vulnerable financial and emotional state. So, make sure the company you choose is accredited with the American Fair Credit Council and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.

You also want to give a wide berth to any company that over promises or makes breathless “guarantees” about how it can save you money for pennies on the dollar and by a time certain, particularly if it hasn’t even gone over your financials. While debt settlement has saved scores of people like you from financial ruin, negotiations are by their very nature unpredictable.

 

Now that you know how debt settlement works, you can proceed with eliminating those burdensome debts and getting your finances in order. Just make sure you pick a credible, reputable, and established company to guide you.

Tax
ArticlesTax

5 Income Tax Tips for People Living and Working in Different States

Tax


Having to file your taxes in more than one state can be a complicated process. The first step is figuring out how much income tax you owe for each state. A lot of people think that they only need to pay the higher amount, but this isn’t always true. You may have a credit or offsetting deduction that makes it worthwhile to calculate what you owe for each state and then compare them before filing in both states.

 

1. Differences Between a Resident and Non-Resident Tax Filing Status

The state you live in considers you a resident if your intention to stay there is indefinite. You are also considered a resident of the state where your spouse and kids reside even though it may not be the same as where you currently live (if they’re with you most of the time).

If neither one of these applies, then you are considered a non-resident and only have to file taxes in the state where you currently live.

If both apply, then things get complicated because it doesn’t always make sense for your filing status to be determined by the state where you work or receive income from business activities. You should go with whichever one benefits you more.

 

2. Understand How to Report Income from Multiple Jobs on Your Taxes

If you work in-state and out of state, then things get a little more complicated. The best thing to do is maintain accurate records so that it’s clear which income should be reported where.

In the case that your total taxable wages are higher than $117,000 (married filing jointly) or $73,800 (single) then you will need to file taxes in both states.

In any other case, you only go where the total taxable wages are higher and use that state’s income tax rate when filling out your return there. You can report all of your W-G from outside jobs on a separate Schedule NEC – Other State Income line with the specific amount of income you earned there.

You can also take a deduction for the taxes paid on your out-of-state work as an itemized deduction to even it all out and avoid paying more in one state than another.

 

3. Are You Eligible for Deductibles or Credits that Could Lower Your Taxes?

There are a number of deductions that you can take advantage of on your tax return to reduce the taxes owed. You should compare these with what is available in each state and go with whichever means more money back for you.

Some examples include:

  • Charitable donations (don’t forget about non-cash items)
  • Medical expenses above a certain threshold
  • Moving expenses to a new state for work or study purposes
  • Property tax deductions (for people who own their own home)

Not all of these will be available in every single state, so you should do your research and see if any apply. The more you can deduct the lower your taxes owed are going to be.

 

4. Review What Counts As Income When Determining Eligibility for Certain Deductions

You may think that the amount of money you made in a certain state is what’s counted as income for your tax return, but this isn’t always true.

The most common example would be refunds from overpayments on property taxes or home loans. These are not taxable as long as they were deducted from previous returns and will lower how much you owe.

If this happens, make sure to include it on the required schedule where income from out-of-state jobs should be declared. You can also claim any deductions associated with that money if applicable.

For other types of income like bank interest or dividends, each state might have different rules about how much is counted as taxable income. It’s best to double-check with the Department of Revenue or Treasury in each state you live and work to find out what counts as income, how much it is, and if there are any deductions associated with it.

The more information you have about your total taxable wage for a year can help lower your tax liability when filing returns from multiple jobs.

 

5. Ensure You Have All the Necessary Records Before Filing Your Taxes

Having a record book might help keep everything organized if filing alone isn’t enough. If you’re looking for a way to speed up the process, there are tools that can help calculate your tax liability as well as file all required documents on behalf of their users. You can also generate all your pay stubs in a few minutes using paystub creator and then use it to record all deductibles, taxes, and income.

Home Buyer
ArticlesFinance

Sensible Tips for First-Time Home-Buyers

Home Buyer


Buying your first home is a daunting task that can leave you feeling extremely stressed. However, by understanding some of the best pieces of advice, you can make better decisions and end up with the house you really want without spending too much on it.

 

Work Out What You Need and Can Afford

One of the biggest mistakes when buying a house is in making the wrong choice. When you go out to view houses you might fall in love with a property that isn’t right for you or that you can’t afford. Therefore, the first step is to work out your budget and stick to only looking at properties that you can afford.

Before getting started is also the time to make a list of the different factors to take into account, such as the distance to amenities, number of bedrooms and so on. Bob Vila looks at issues like renovation potential and storage space in this post. Be as clear as you can at the beginning on what you are looking for and it will be a lot easier to narrow down your options as you go.

Hopefully, what you need ties in perfectly with what you can afford. If it doesn’t, it’s time to be completely honest and see whether you need to save some more money before going any further, or else lower your expectations to a suitable level for your budget.

 

Consider Your Mortgage Options

Some people wait too late to find out about their mortgage options, committing to buying a house before they have the finances lined up. The most sensible approach is to find out about your mortgage options and how much you can borrow early on in the process.

Go online to do some research and you can use a trusted fast mortgage broker like Trussle to find the best deals. They take you through a few simple questions to work out your situation and get the most suitable quote. You will then look at fixed or variable rates from top lenders such as Halifax and Virgin Money.  Having an agreement in principle in place for a mortgage makes the whole thing less stressful later on. It means that once you find somewhere you want to buy you can move more quickly and avoid any last-minute hitches with your loan.

 

Calculate the Monthly Costs

By the time you have carried out the previous steps, you are close to knowing exactly how much the property is going to cost you. Now is the time to consider all of the costs that owning a house involves, from electricity bills to repairs, maintenance and anything else that crops up.

The hidden costs of owning a home as explained by Investopedia includes items such as insurance and taxes. You will want to carry out research on the cost of running similar homes in the area to be sure that you can afford it.

Take these tips into account and buying your first house will be more enjoyable and less of a struggle than you have probably imagined it to be.

Mortgage rate
ArticlesFinance

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Mortgage Rates and Why They Matter

Mortgage rate

Mortgage rates are instrumental in determining the affordability of home loans for anyone who wants to get on the property ladder.

While you may understand the basics, drilling down into the details and learning more about interest rates and how they apply to mortgages is sensible. So without further ado, here are handy facts to help you make informed decisions.

 

Interest rates typically rise before they fall

Holding off on securing a mortgage in the expectation that rates will fall in the near future is a bad idea. This is because at any one time it is statistically more likely for them to increase rather than decrease.

It is better to avoid worrying about picking the perfect time to get your first mortgage or refinance. Instead, compare various mortgage rates right now and get the best deal in the current market conditions.

 

Other factors can impact the affordability of a property more than mortgage rates

Obsessing over the interest rate of a mortgage package without also considering the other costs involved in buying a property is a common mistake, and one which can come back to bite buyers.

You need to look at the big picture and not only consider how much interest you will be paying on your home loan, but also other costs like property tax, maintenance, moving fees and commuting expenses where relevant.

 

Rates aren’t directly tied to the economy

While outside economic factors certainly have an impact on mortgage rates, you should not assume that they completely mirror the boom and bust cycle of the broader economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a great example of this; while there was widespread disruption in many industries, home loan rates remained low and actually fell in many regions.

 

The prime interest rate can be misleading

Another aspect of the mortgage market which it is tempting to fixate upon is the prime interest rate, because while this may be a seemingly solid indicator of the overall state of play in the lending market, it does not actually tally closely with the general level of the interest rate curve.

Indeed the prime rate can be significantly higher or lower than real world rates that most customers can access, so doing more research and weighing up your options is wise before you dive into any deal with a lender.

 

Interest costs can be overtaken by rising property prices

Over the course of a 25 or 30 year fixed term mortgage, you will clearly see that the interest you pay off each month mounts up to a significant amount on top of the original price of your home.

This can seem daunting and even feel like you are overpaying for the property in the long run. However, since the housing market tends to rise year on year, it is more than likely that your home will increase in value at a greater rate than the interest of your mortgage, so when you sell it, interest costs will be less of a concern.

 

Refinancing costs vary depending on the mortgage you pick

This is one of the trickier aspects, but one which can make a major difference to the appeal of particular mortgage packages.

In essence, the type of deal you strike with your lender may either make refinancing in the future more or less expensive.

Obviously this depends on your circumstances and the state of the market at the time, so get expert advice and be aware of all the terms and conditions which apply to the home loan product you choose.