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Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies What’s All the Fuss About

cryptocurrencies

“Blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” are among some of the most-searched terms in Google recently thanks to news about BitCoin’s price surging. Most people don’t have a clue about what these terms are (hence the searches) but they do know that cryptocurrencies are a form of investment like forex. Unfortunately, while the principle is similar because cryptocurrencies are a traded form of currency, the way BitCoin works is completely different to any kind of currency pair that you can find.

To help you out, we’re going to talk about blockchains and cryptocurrencies to help you achieve a better understanding of what it’s all about.

Defining Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies

Let’s start with the basics and explain what these two terms mean.

  • Blockchains are essentially digital edgers where transactions in cryptocurrencies are recorded. It’s a form of technology that enables cryptocurrencies to exist in the first place. Think of it as a gigantic database where every single transaction is kept in chronological order. You don’t need to understand how it works if you’re interested in BitCoin or another cryptocurrency, but it’s nice to get a general overview of what it implies.
  • Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that utilize encryption techniques to safely regulate their value and also validate transfers. These cryptocurrencies are independent of banks and they’re generated digitally. Two good examples of popular cryptocurrencies are BitCoin and Ethereum. There are many different advantages to both the currencies and their values fluctuate drastically over the years. Ethereum, for instance, was worth $10 per unit in 2017. Currently, they are quoted at around $800. Ripple is another popular cryptocurrency that has recently grown in popularity.

Now that you have a basic understanding of blockchains and cryptocurrencies, let’s see what the fuss is all about and why it’s making waves in the news.

Advantages of Cryptocurrencies

So why use cryptocurrencies over regular currency? Here are just a couple of the most popular advantages:

  • Lower transaction fees. Unlike other currencies, there are lower fees involved when making payments with cryptocurrencies.
  • Immediate transactions. Transactions are immediately resolved when using cryptocurrencies unless a third-party is involved.
  • No risk of fraud. Cryptocurrencies are completely digital and, unlike paper money, cannot be counterfeited.
  • No risk of identity theft. Since your personal information isn’t handed out when making payments with cryptocurrencies (unlike credit and debit cards) you’re not at risk of identity theft.
  • Decentralized currencies. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized which means that there isn’t a single source or authority that governs it.
  • Universal use. Virtually every country can adopt cryptocurrencies because they are not bound by various rates like exchange rates. They can be universally used as long as a cash system supports it.

Industries That Use Cryptocurrencies

As you might expect, cryptocurrencies are slowly becoming more mainstream and being used in all kinds of different industries. One of the first industries to adopt the use of cryptocurrency is the technology industry. Early uses of cryptocurrencies involved being able to purchase goods on the internet or trade digital items and pay for services. There are now many uses for cryptocurrency on the web, such as being able to make donations with it or accept crowdfunding payment.

Nowadays, the use of cryptocurrency is widespread and marketers are all over it, using social media, blogs, lead generation pages to spread the word. So which industries are using it right now? Some car dealerships offer vehicles for BitCoins and there are even some realtors that accept BitCoin payments. With the use of BitCoin expanding so rapidly, don’t be surprised to see your local coffee shop offering goods for cryptocurrency in a few years or even months.

Here’s some information on two of the most popular cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin and Etherum and why you should take notice of Ripple…

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the world’s first and top cryptocurrency that had gained popularity and a huge increase in value. It was created in 2009 by a person under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. Its main feature is that transactions can be made without the middle man – meaning that no banks are involved!

You can use Bitcoin to book hotels, pay for Xbox games, and buy furniture. But most of its hype has recently come from people trading it. As of now, its price is $8207.77 whose price used to be past the $10,000 mark in 2017.

Another reason why Bitcoin is amazing is because it can be mined. A person (company or group) can mine Bitcoin through record-keeping and advanced math. This is how it works, when someone sends Bitcoin to someone else, the network records it and then records the other transactions and places them on a “block.”

Miners use powerful hardware and specialized software to convert the blocks into code sequences known as “hash.” Once a new has is made, the miners who found it are awarded in Bitcoin. As of now, miners can obtain 12.5 Bitcoins which worth around $225,000 at this time.

Bitcoin is ranked first because it started new concepts such as “decentralization” and “peer to peer trading.” We would see other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum use this concept to help users make apps and trade their currencies at a rate that’s faster than Bitcoin.

Speaking of Ethereum…

Ethereum

Ranked second on our list is Ethereum. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is running on a public blockchain network. While Bitcoin and Ethereum are completely different in technology, their largest distinction is their difference in capability and purpose.

Ethereum’s blockchain is used to run program code for any decentralized application. Instead of miners obtaining Bitcoin, they receive Ether, the main currency that fuels the network.

Ethereum also has smart contracts, which acts like a self-ran computer program that automatically execute once specific guidelines are met. Since they are running on the blockchain, the code can run without downtime, third party interference, and without censorship.

What makes Ethereum a top cryptocurrency is its ability to let startups create decentralized apps. They can receive funding from other Ether owners to help power their app without the long process of seeking a venture capitalist to invest in them. Ethereum is now priced at $857.70, which we can only expect it to grow due to the development apps on its platform.

Ripple

Ripple is the third top cryptocurrency on our list. Like other cryptos, Ripple has a distributed ledger network that allows users to help each other validate transactions. This makes it more efficient and faster than traditional centralized authorities.

What stands Ripple apart is its transaction speed. On average, Bitcoin takes about 10 minutes to complete a transaction. Ripple can accomplish this task in under 60 seconds. This makes Ripple more appealing to a mass market, who needs a faster network to help them pay for goods.

Ripple is currently developed by Ripple Labs. As of now, they have of 100 billion XRP available, as its unable to be mined. Ripple’s current price is now $.73, making it the cheapest option on this list.

While other cryptos are used for separating financial transactions from centralized banking, Ripple seems to do the opposite.

Closing Thoughts

To conclude, we believe that each of these cryptocurrencies provides a lot of value into today’s current market. Not only are they bringing in new financial options for users, but their combined technology helps make transactions safer and faster. Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how these cryptocurrencies will act as blockchain technology continues to evolve.

Disclaimer: This post was made to educate users on cryptocurrency. Don’t take it as investment advice.

Sources:
https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/what-is-ripple/
https://www.coindesk.com/information/what-is-ethereum/
http://money.cnn.com/infographic/technology/what-is-bitcoin/
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/what-is-bitcoin/
https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/what-is-bitcoin-currency-crash-10409961

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Finance

What You Ought to Know About Quant Traders

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Quantitative trading is an area of quantitative finance that is highly sophisticated. This article introduces some of the basics of a quantitative trading system and the necessary background to become a qualified quantitative trader.

What is Quantitative Trading?

Quantitative trading or quant trading is a type of trading that uses quantitative analysis as the basic strategy to identify trading profit possibility, including mathematical calculations. The most common data inputs in the quantitative analysis are price and volume.

Transactions involved in quant trading are usually large, which includes the sale and purchase of hundred or even thousands of shares and securities. This is because quantitative trading is typically practiced in the financial institutions.

The four primary components of a quantitative trading system include:

  • Strategy identification
  • Backtesting strategy
  • Execution system
  • Risk management

What Does a Quant Trader do?

Quantitative traders, also known as quants, utilize modern technology, comprehensive databases, numbers and mathematics to derive a logical trading decision. Using mathematical models, quantitative traders then identify trading opportunities.

Quant traders research the available price and data from the enormous amount of data in algorithm trading and high-frequency trading, find profitable trading opportunities, create relevant strategies, and grab the opportunity faster with the help of computer programs.

Generally, quant traders need an in-depth understanding and knowledge of mathematics, possess computer skills, and have some exposure to trading.

Technical Background of a Quant Trader

To become a full-fledged quant trader, one needs to have the following professional background:

  • Great with numbers: Quant traders must be excellent with numbers and quantitative analysis. An in-depth understanding of mathematics is required to carry out trading activities such as data researching, results testing, development, and implementation of trade strategies.
  • Educated in a relevant course and training: Studies involving theoretical concepts and the introduction to quantitative trading provide a better background for quant traders. This may include a master’s degree or a diploma involving financial engineering, quantitative financial modeling, or any course with electives in quantitative.
  • Armed with unique trading strategies: Quant traders should have in-depth knowledge about common trading strategies and have the ability to develop their unique trading strategy.
  • Possess programming skills: Quant traders should know at least one programming language such as Python, Java, C++, or Perl. They also need to have knowledge about automated trading, data mining, analysis, and research, which are usually involved in algorithmic trading and high-frequency trading.
  • Familiar with the computers: Quant traders need to be familiar with analysis software, spreadsheets, and broker trading. Also, they should be able to develop their algorithms on real-time data.

Soft Skills of a Quant Trader

Besides the above-mentioned technical skills, quant traders need to possess the following soft skills:

  • The spirit of a trader: Successful traders will brainstorm innovative trading ideas, can take on a massive volume of data, quickly adapt to the ever-changing trading market and can work on extended hours.
  • Able to take risks: Quant traders are risk-takers that understand the impact of risk, its management, and mitigation techniques.
  • Accept failure: Although the developed strategy may seem foolproof, failure is sometimes inevitable. Quant traders must always be ready to accept defeat, willing to let go of their concepts and develop a new one.

Becoming a quant trader may seem complicated, and it requires a lot of hard work. However, the lucrative income and innovative system of quantitative trading make quant trader an excellent career choice.

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Finance

How can a personal loan help you save money?

piggy bank

People in debt have traditionally been unable to easily consolidate it all. In the past, the best tactic has been to focus on one type of debt at a time (usually starting with the debt accruing the most interest) to clear it.

About 20 years ago, a new product became available called a personal loan. These unsecured loans were designed to help people manage multiple debt sources and repair their credit score. As with most types of unsecured debt, applicants are typically expected to provide a guarantor. Such a loan can be anything from £1,000 to £50,000 with a fixed interest rate payable over a fixed term, typically 4-5 years or more. Applicants use these instant guarantor loans as they realise just how much money they can save when used in certain circumstances.

No matter the interest rate on existing debt, personal loans are lower

One reason most people take out a personal loan is to consolidate different debts of varying and disparate interest rates. If you have £5,000 on a credit card (typical APR 29.9%), £1,000 overdraft (typical APR 15-20%), £1,000 of debt on a store card (typical APR an eye-watering 39.9%) among others, that’s a lot of interest you’re paying every month needlessly.

When taking out a personal loan, you’ll notice that the APRs are much lower. The average rate is 8% when borrowing under £10,000 and 5% when borrowing over this amount. Pay off the outstanding balances with the new instant guarantor loan and you will stop accruing all that interest, clearing the balance instead.

Personal loans put a deadline on repayment

People, couples and families with a lot of debt spread over multiple areas often feel there is no end in sight for the debt. This is especially the case for those types of debt with no deadline such as an overdraft, and credit and store cards.

The ability to consolidate all this debt into one personal loan automatically creates a deadline. Sometimes you may choose this; sometimes the provider will specify when it will be. Not only will you know the rate of interest that will accrue on top of the debt, you will also know how long you have left to pay off that debt. The stress and anxiety of accruing more and more is alleviated and you can prepare for having more liquid cash once your personal loan comes to its natural end.

Early payment option will save more

With lower rates of interest than most common types of borrowing, personal loans help you save money as a matter of course. When you are able and willing to pay back the debt faster than anticipated, this will save you even more money.

Not all personal loans allow you to settle early, for example pay off the last six months of payments in a lump sum while the term remains, but most will. You may be required to pay an early settlement penalty or premium such as one-or-two-months interest. If there is an early repayment option, carefully check the agreement’s wording. Even with a penalty on top, it could still be less than the interest you would have paid if you had let the loan run its course.

Personal loans improve your credit score

Customers who use unsecured guarantor personal loans use them to consolidate and manage debt as well as reducing their interest burden. So long as you stick to the terms of the agreement and have enough money each month to make the payment, your credit score will begin its improvement process.

What does this have to do with saving money? It’s a long-term strategy. Most credit cards and loans are not open to people with a bad credit score, however, there are ways you could potentially be able to get a loan with a bad credit score. Unfortunately, those loans that are not open are usually those products and services with the best interest rates and the most attractive rewards. With an improved credit score, you can apply for credit products with lower interest rates, better payment terms, and even earn a little something in the process such as cashback or air miles.

Cheaper than finance agreements

Most of the items in our list concern people looking to improve their credit rating and those with borrowing spread across multiple accounts. If you’re in the market for a new or nearly new vehicle, the seller will offer financing terms. They tend to offer a single product with a single finance provider; in short, it’s a take it or leave it choice. This is not always the cheapest way to buy a new car, but it is convenient which is why most people accept the terms that the motor trader offers.

Before singing that finance agreement, consider a personal loan. Interest rates are lower on average than motor finance. When the vehicle’s price tag is over £10,000, that interest rate drops considerably, sometimes as much as half of the annual interest rate.

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Finance

Financing A Business With A Home Equity Loan

contractor

Finding funds for a business is no easy task. Qualifying for a business loan is not guaranteed; therefore many companies leverage their owners’ assets like the family home to raise the funds they require in their enterprise.

There are many ways to use personally guaranteed funds too and one option is what’s called a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, These loans can also be ideal for debt consolidation of say high-interest borrowing like credit cards, personal and short term loans but in this blog post we’re focusing on how these loans work for businesses.

There are many more obstacles or hoops to jump through when seeking an actual business loan and often it’s the financial statements of the business that fail to pass the lending criteria due to the startup phase requiring more investment and not showing a profit.

Entrepreneurs starting out, are therefore renown for sourcing investment from wherever they can get it. The credit card has been the go-to source for funds, but the interest rates are very high, so it’s not a long term borrowing solution for a business.

Before long, the owner is seeking other sources to keep the business afloat or to grow it. They may take out personal loans but before long their requirements exceed what they borrow without additional security so this is where many use their home.

As a business owner, it may make perfect sense to use a home equity line of credit to draw down funds for the business and then repay them when in lump sums and repeat as and when required. So what is a HELOC?

HELOC

This type of loan allows you to have an open line of credit on the equity you have in your property.

HELOC’s has longer repayment periods that can be 10 – 20 years much like a usual mortgage and as the property owner you can borrow up to 85% of the home’s value minus what you may owe it. For example, if your home is valued at $750,000 and you have a mortgage of $250,000 on it already. Your line of credit may be as much as $425,000.

HELOC rates are higher than your standard mortgage rate, so it’s very much ‘caveat emptor’ or buyer beware, get professional expert advice from your accountant, financial advisor and maybe also your lawyer. Remember all loan agreements are legal documents, and they have terms and conditions that the borrower must comply.

There are many other ways to fund your business, including angel investors, offering shareholdings, so while using the equity in your home is an option it may not be the best way forward as the risk is your business cannot pay back what it’s borrowed, and you are personally liable to repay it or lose it.

Remember it is your equity and if your business borrows too much of it and can not repay it, and the lender calls in the loan it could be that you are forced to sell your home. It’s a dreary thought, but it’s better to know the pros and cons when borrowing money for any venture.

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