RIPPLE is the fourth largest cryptocurrency in the world but despite its recent growth, it still remains an unfamiliar name to most.
XRP, Ripple’s native currency, has taken the banking world by storm, soaring from under $0.01 to $0.79 a coin in less than a year. But why did its value suddenly increase by 4300 per cent?
Hacked/Ripple A graphic representation of Ripple XRP coin
How does Ripple work and are there any risks?
Ripple acts as a payment network, RippleNet, and a cryptocurrency, Ripple XRP.
The platform makes it easy to transfer almost any currency to almost any other currency in the world in no longer than four seconds.
Currently, Ripple is focused on working with banks and other institutions in a bid to offer an efficient and cost-effective way of sending real-time payments around the world.
Using Ripple, if one wanted to transfer currency directly from China to the USA, they can trade CNY to XRP, (Ripples currency), and then send XRP to the recipient who will have an online Ripple wallet or a bank in the USA. From there, they can trade the XRP back into USD.
Ripple This graph compares the speed of transactions across different cryptocurrencies Man named Satoshi Nakamoto denies he is the creator of Bitcoin
In comparison, transactions on Ethereum can take more than two minutes, and on Bitcoin payments can take more than an hour to be processed.
Ripple claims banks can save an average of $3.76 per payment using their network.
Since XRP only works directly with banks, the budding cryptocurrency is set to focus on developing networks to benefit finance corporations.
Although critics have questioned why the platform now focuses exclusively on banks, because it was launched to help everyday people make global transactions much easier.
But Ripple can appear risky. It’s open nature means nodes are vulnerable to attack, which could leave users unable to access their accounts.
Its technology is still in its infancy, so this means Ripple is subject to competition, and innovation.
Why has the cryptocurrency XRP spiked?
Ripple soared by 18.8 per cent on December 14, reaching a new record high of 0.5659, CoinMarketCap reported.
XRP reputedly gained such a boost in its value because Bitcoin’s new record of $17,2370 benefited the entire cryptocurrency market.
The global market is currently valued at around $488billion, Bitcoin accounts for less than 40 per cent of the daily turnover and Ripple accounts for a minor 4 per cent.
But experts believe it will enjoy a larger boost in value in 2018.
XRP also enjoyed a surge because of its new partnership with credit card company American Express, who are looking to offer instant block-chain based payments.
Getty – Contributor Bitcoin’s recent record high boosted the value of the global cryptocurrency market
Celebrating the AMEX-Ripple partnership, the company’s chief information officer, Marc Gordon said: “American Express has a long history of integrating new technologies.
“This collaboration with Ripple and Santander represents the next step forward on our blockchain journey, evolving the way we move money around the world.”
How to buy XRP
Ripple can be easily purchased using other cryptocurriencies like Bitcoin.
It is available on Bitstamp, where users can purchase them with their local currency.
Using an online wallet like GateHub, XRP can be stored in an online wallet. This will allow them to make purchases and even send XRP to other Ripple users.
Exclusive Trump Calls Meeting On Biofuels Policy After Refiner Bankruptcy
NEW YORK – U.S. President Donald Trump has called a meeting early next week with key senators and Cabinet officials to discuss potential changes to biofuels policy, which is coming under increasing pressure after a Pennsylvania refiner blamed the regulation for its bankruptcy, according to four sources familiar with the matter.
The meeting comes as the oil industry and corn lobby – powerful forces in Washington – clash over the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a decade-old regulation that requires refiners to cover the cost of mixing biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into their fuel.
Trump’s engagement reflects the high political stakes of protecting jobs in a key electoral state. Oil refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which employs more than a thousand people in Philadelphia, declared bankruptcy last month and blamed the regulation for its demise.
The meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, will include Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa, along with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and potentially Energy Secretary Rick Perry, according to the four sources, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
One source said the meeting would focus on short-term solutions to help PES continue operating. PES is asking a bankruptcy judge to shed roughly $350 million of its current RFS compliance costs, owed to the EPA which administers the program, as part of its restructuring package.
The other sources said the meeting will consider whether to cap prices for biofuel credits, let higher-ethanol blends be sold all year, and efforts to get speculators out of the market.
Officials at the EPA, Agriculture Department, and Energy Department declined to comment. A White House official, Kelly Love, said she had no announcement on the matter at this time.
The offices of Cruz, Ernst and Grassley did not immediately return requests for comment.
The sources said the options moving forward would be constrained by political and legal realities that have derailed previous efforts at reform.
The Trump administration has already considered changes to the RFS sought by refiners this year – including reducing the amount of biofuels required to be blended annually under the regulation, or shifting the responsibility for blending to supply terminals – only to retreat in the face of opposition from corn-state lawmakers.
NARROW OPTIONS, BROAD RESISTANCE
The EPA is expected to weigh in officially in the coming weeks on PES’s request to the bankruptcy judge to be released from its compliance obligations. But any such move would likely draw a backlash from other U.S. refiners, who have no hope of receiving a waiver.
Under the RFS, refiners must earn or purchase blending credits called RINs to prove they are complying with the regulation. As biofuels volumes quotas have increased, so have prices for the credits – meaning refiners that invested in blending facilities have benefited while those that have not, such as PES, have had to pay up.
PES said its RFS compliance costs exceeded its payroll last year, and ranked only behind the cost of purchasing crude oil.
Other issues may have contributed to PES’s financial difficulties. Reuters reported that PES’s investor backers withdrew from the company more than $594 million in a series of dividend-style distributions since 2012, even as regional refining economics slumped.
Regulators and lawmakers have been considering how to cut the cost of the RFS to the oil industry.
In recent months, for example, the EPA has contemplated expanding its use of an exemption available to small refineries – a move that would likely push down RIN prices, but which both the oil and corn industries have said would be unfair.
Cruz last year proposed limiting the price of RINs to 10 cents, a fraction of their current value – an idea that was roundly rejected by the ethanol industry as a disincentive for new ethanol blending infrastructure investment.
Senator John Cornyn, also a Texas Republican, is preparing draft legislation to overhaul the RFS in Congress that would include the creation of a new specialized RIN credit intended to push down prices – but it too faces resistance from both the corn and oil lobbies.
Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw;
Hkex To Offer Concessions For Us Uk-listed Firms To List In Hong Kong
HONG KONG – Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) (0388.HK), the city’s exchange operator, said on Friday it plans to offer concessions to U.S. and UK-listed companies considering a secondary listing in Hong Kong.
The plans are part of the exchange’s efforts to woo blockbuster Chinese companies to its market, including home tech giants such as Alibaba Group Holding (BABA.N) and Baidu (BIDU.O) that are listed in New York.
“We still have a lot of restrictions on companies that are listed in other jurisdictions (for secondary listing in Hong Kong) and we want to make changes to that,” said Charles Li, chief executive of HKEX.
On Friday, the exchange published details of the proposed rule changes which are part of a package that will also allow some companies to list with weighted voting rights that give greater power to founding shareholders.
So-called dual-class shares have been a contentious topic in Hong Kong since the city’s strict adherence to a one-share-one-vote principle was deemed to be the factor that lost it the $25 billion float of Alibaba, which instead listed in New York in 2014.
Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Jennifer Hughes;
China Seizes Control Of Anbang Insurance As Chairman Prosecuted
BEIJING/SHANGHAI – The Chinese government on Friday seized control of Anbang Insurance Group Co Ltd and said its chairman had been prosecuted, a dramatic move that highlights Beijing’s willingness to curtail big-spending conglomerates as it cracks down on financial risk.
Anbang had violated laws and regulations which “may seriously endanger the solvency of the company”, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) said in a statement announcing the seizure, without giving details.
The CIRC also said Anbang’s chairman and key shareholder, Wu Xiaohui, had been prosecuted for economic crimes. Wu was arrested in June as troubles mounted for one of China’s most aggressive buyers of overseas assets.
The Shanghai prosecutors office said in a statement Friday that Wu had recently been charged with fundraising fraud and abuse of his position, and that his case had been forwarded to the city’s intermediate court for prosecution.
During the government takeover of Anbang Group, which will last for one year starting on Friday, the company will be managed by a group of officials from the CIRC, the central bank and other key financial regulators and government bodies.
The group will seek to undertake an equity restructuring of the insurance giant, even as it keeps Anbang operating as usual, protecting the rights and interests of its consumers and stakeholders, the CIRC said.
The government takeover of Anbang, which claims 1.97 trillion yuan ($310.85 billion) in assets and ranks 139 on the Global Fortune 500 list, is a defining blow to the acquisitive conglomerate best known for acquiring New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Related CoverageChina regulator issues guidance on tackling insurance fraudThe unprecedented seizure of a major non-state company also underscores how far the ruling Communist Party will go in its growing campaign to lower financial risks, sending a signal to risk-taking private enterprises.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the move.
Three insurance industry insiders said they were not surprised by the move since Anbang had been in the crosshairs of the government. But they said they believed it had more to do with Anbang’s behavior than systemic financial risks.
A regulatory source with knowledge of the matter said the government had been effectively running the company since Wu was detained and the timing of the official takeover was linked to the months-long investigation into Wu, which was nearly complete.
But a Beijing-based lawyer who works with the CIRC and other regulators said senior officials at the insurance regulator had been watching Anbang closely since last year as its liabilities from the sale of shadow banking products grew, raising questions about the company’s solvency.
“The group has become too big to fail in some sense,” said the lawyer, who declined to be identified by name.
The CIRC said on Friday that it had sent a working group to Anbang in June 2017 and that at present the company’s operations are “generally stable”.
FILE PHOTO: Chairman of Anbang Insurance Group Wu Xiaohui attends the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo“This appears to be an unprecedented takeover – a Chinese-style hostile takeover,” said Scott Kennedy, director of the Project on Chinese Business & Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“The Chinese government doesn’t want to have a company default on foreign debt and it also wants to teach a lesson to other Chinese business people that the Party is in charge.”
After a spate of high-profile deals worth over $30 billion, Anbang began to run into roadblocks even before Wu’s detention, failing to close on a handful of investments and facing criticism over its opaque shareholding structure.
A spokesman for Anbang Insurance Group declined to comment and referred to the CIRC announcement.
Calls to Wu Xiaohui’s personal phone numbers were either disconnected or unanswered.
Slideshow (5 Images)“Clearly a message is being fed back into the market and to private companies that being very innovative may not be looked on favorably in the long run,” said Keith Pogson, senior partner for Asia-Pacific financial services at EY.
“This says to the market ‘tread carefully’ – if they hadn’t already got that message.”
In a separate statement Friday, CIRC said insurers must take steps to handle fraud risks and that it had issued new guidelines for the industry. The regulator said it would seek to improve coordination among relevant authorities to prevent and mitigate fraud risks.
The CIRC said that Anbang’s debts and obligations will not be impacted by the takeover.
The takeover was implemented under a broad provision in the country’s insurance law allowing it to rectify violations of the law by insurance companies, it said.
The noose had been tightening around Anbang as China’s insurance industry came under the microscope over the past year or so for risky behavior, ranging from term-mismatches on insurance products and highly leveraged overseas acquisitions, as well as corrupt practices.
Anbang distributes insurance through multiple channels, with the bulk going through banks.
Under Wu, Anbang was among China’s most active overseas investors after the government liberalized offshore investment rules earlier this decade.
In the United States, Anbang bought the Waldorf Astoria for $1.95 billion, and later agreed to pay $6.5 billion for Strategic Hotels and Resorts, purchasing both properties from Blackstone Group.
It acquired life insurance companies in South Korea and in Europe, as well as the largest retirement home chain in British Columbia, Canada.
But it has faced increasing pushback in its offshore deal-making amid a broader decline in Chinese outbound acquisitions. Beijing has strengthened curbs over capital outflows after China’s leadership vowed to curb risk in its financial system.
Reporting by Matthew Miller and Judy Hua in BEIJING, Engen Tham and John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI, and Jennifer Hughes, Sumeet Chatterjee and Julie Zhu in HONG KONG;
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