Tag Archives: Markets

Advantages Of Using Bitcoin In The Cannabis Sector

In recent years, the situation around cannabis has changed for the better. Marijuana is no longer the topic everyone tends to avoid. Additionally, the number of states where pot is legalized keeps increasing. At first glance, it may seem like there are no clouds over the industry, but is that really how it is? 

The situation is better than a decade or more ago, but it is far from perfect. Pot is still illegal on the federal level. That creates many problems for this fast-growing industry, including the fact banks and other financial service institutions are not willing to take the risk and work with marijuana companies.

Until the Senate approves the cannabis banking bill, the industry requires something to solve the banking needs, and bitcoin offers an alternative to financial service institutions.

Cannabis businesses can’t access traditional financial services  

The whole story around legalization goes in a good direction. But those who work in the industry keep facing many issues, and the biggest one is the inability to access traditional banking services. Banks are not prepared to work with marijuana businesses. It’s the same thing with the card companies that won’t cooperate with the cannabis section until it becomes legal on the federal level.

The result? Businesses cannot deposit their earnings as they are left without banking support. In addition, the dispensaries are very often the robbery targets. Many stores work on a cash-only basis, and criminals are aware of it.  So, owners have to deal with many things alone, including the risk of robbery, even though the industry has outstanding potential and keeps climbing up the ladder of growth.

“A continuing struggle we’ve faced is safe banking. There has never been an efficient, safe way for us to bank because the appropriate laws have not been passed. This is something we are currently working on, and there are safe banking laws being discussed, but as of right now that is a major hurdle in our industry,“ John S Nemeth, the president and the owner of THC Alaska Cannabis & Concentrates told AskGrowers.

Bitcoin as the answer?

Being a cannabis entrepreneur is everything but easy, and all those who work in the industry keep trying to find alternatives to banks. In recent times, one of the options presented as the potential solution, at least until the cannabis banking bill sees the light of the day in terms of Senate approval, is bitcoin.

Many companies and dispensaries started looking into cryptocurrencies. The reason for that is quite apparent. Doing business without the ability to access the services every other industry can, including loans, is quite tricky. Furthermore, you can’t accept card payments either. The entire business is based on cash, and that’s far from perfect.

The advantages of using bitcoin in the cannabis sector

Bitcoin can offer a lot to the cannabis industry, so some dispensaries decided to implement it into their businesses, and many others are considering that option.

Bitcoin allows businesses to extend their customers base – the moment a company implements the cryptocurrency, those using bitcoin will be able to purchase the products with it. Most stories around cryptocurrencies focus on them as investments. But, as many companies now use them as the official payment method, people can spend them, and buying pot products is one of the ways to do so. Fees are lower – some small banks and other financial service institutions are willing to provide their services to cannabis companies, but there is a major downside. Fees are often remarkably high. When it comes to bitcoin, the fees are rather small.   Companies can go international – marijuana companies that are planning to obtain customers from around the world or work overseas can entirely rely on cryptocurrencies and count on quick, easy, and stress-free payments. Safe and secure method – the stigma around bitcoin faded, which allowed many to see all the good things about the payment method, including that it is safe and secure. An interesting fact is that blockchain tech has never been hacked. Transparency is ensured. Setting up bitcoin as the payment method is relatively simple.

Are there any drawbacks?

There are many advantages to using bitcoin, but it’s not a perfect solution. Cryptocurrencies, bitcoin included, are volatile. These currencies did not achieve stability on the market, so they are still considered tricky as they may fluctuate a lot.

That’s not the only major drawback because there is an issue with taxes. The taxing process is not the same as the one for the regular income. It is essential to track all the transactions, but not just that. It is necessary to follow the bitcoin’s value against the US dollar when the transaction is made. The entire process increases the costs, and it takes a lot of time.

Bitcoin is a great option, but safe banking is required as well

Bitcoin comes with its own set of perks and several drawbacks. It's a great option, but it is far from ideal. Using it as a payment option can work, but businesses cannot expect their customers to switch to bitcoin to purchase their products. The purchases with bitcoin are just a tiny part of the income companies make. 

With that said, it's clear that safe banking must find its way to the cannabis industry. After all, it is the industry that keeps on growing, and it deserves to have access to banking services the same as all the other businesses and industries do. Relying on the cash only and running the business that way requires more effort, time, and patience. In the absence of loans, the owners have to fund their businesses themselves. They are left with cash they can't deposit, constantly being the target of robbers.

Everything would change with cannabis federal legality. The banks and other financial service institutions would start cooperating with the cannabis industry. The card companies would offer their services as well.  Everyone in the pot market is impatiently waiting for the cannabis banking bill to pass the Senate so they can feel some relief after years of struggle to run the business without safe banking.

Even with the cannabis banking bill or marijuana federal legality, bitcoin would remain one of many great payment methods customers can use. The popularity of these currencies will rise in the future, so we can expect more people to use them to buy all kinds of services and things, including pot products.

 

The Dawn of Stablecoin Era: Unleashing The Power Of Stablecoins In DeFi

By Katia Shabanova
Challenging and volatile times often result in the emergence of better foundations – more stable and durable. Although the world is slow to adapt to changes, in the emerging all-digital realm, fiat money is becoming a thing of the past — such as a relic of the oil and gas era.   

Modern banking is often a painful experience riddled with hassle and inefficiencies. Interaction with money should not feel like an uphill struggle but an autonomous and straightforward experience that makes financial freedom accessible to all.

The technological advancement in the finance area is undergoing a significant reshaping. During the last few years, the overall capitalization of stablecoins skyrocketed. However, the cryptocurrency realm is still regarded as a Wild West, full of traps for new investors interested in making quick profits. Decentralized Finance and stablecoins: the two emerging trends are now combining into a game-changing equation that will benefit tech-savvy users.

Spearheading the digital finance environment 

Fiat money is not only inconvenient in the world where most people are used to rapid tech innovations. The latest study suggests that 70% of the United States population carries a credit card, with 34% having three or more cards. Debit cards remain the preferred method of payment. At the same time, new cash vs. credit card spending statistics shows that people tend to spend way more when paying with a credit card. Most people use credit cards for convenience and security.

From paper money – to digital, we need to take another leap forward in the global mentality to realize that fiat money is an inflationary asset. Storing dollars in bank deposits over a long period makes no sense at all since you will lose all their value. Going this way is the kiss of death to your dreams of accumulating substantial gains by retirement.

Interest rates on bank deposits are decreasing, and it is not uncommon to see negative returns in European countries. SWIFT is no longer the best way to transfer funds between countries. A story is known to everyone: opening an account, providing documents, and waiting for a day or more of the transfer are all non-effective for the hectic modern rhythm of life. Keeping money in banks has become unsafe – banks go bankrupt and have their licenses revoked. Millions of people lost their funds forever, and this trend unfortunately will continue.

Stagnating bank deposit interest rates push users of traditional banking products into the DeFi realm.

 

However, deposits are now receiving a second life with the advent of DeFi. Users can receive income that significantly exceeds the % on bank deposits and inflation because of Liquidity Providing and Lending. In the crypto world, all one needs to do is create a blockchain wallet, set it up and after a few clicks, the money transfer will be completed within some minutes. No one will have any additional questions about your transaction, no extra hassle will be involved. You are the one responsible for managing your wealth. Moreover, it is much safer to store money in wallets with private keys that only you have access to — you become the actual owner of your funds.

The gateway to the new era of finance

We see that the trend will continue. The increase in the capitalization of stablecoins by more than ten times over the next five years is hardly an overestimation. This can happen at the expense of banking service users who become disillusioned with banks. The second decisive factor will be offshore companies, as the flow of billions of dollars from the legal entities to stablecoins in the next few years is inevitable. The third vital factor that affects this forecast is that it helps you understand that more than 20% of the world’s population still does not have access to typical banking services! Cryptocurrency is the only gateway into the world of finance. Mobile phone usage is going extremely fast in major and third-world countries and areas where such services are hard to get. Convenience and accessibility are driving this adoption.

The U.S. mobile payment market experienced a tremendous increase of 41% from $69.8 billion in 2018 to $98.8 billion in 2019, according to eMarketer. American shoppers are increasingly using mobile payments as customers become more comfortable with the technology.

Finally, the explosive growth of Decentralize Finance platforms has created an option to capitalize on stable cryptocurrencies. The DeFi sector has been on a sharp rise in 2020-21. The TVL (Total Value Locked) of all cryptocurrencies skyrocketed from 1 to almost 90 billion dollars! Despite unsavory predictions of previous years, Decentralized Finance protocols are now eclipsing some centralized exchanges in terms of volumes and growth rates. Estimates indicate that by 2025, assets held on DEXes will amount to almost half of the entire crypto market capitalization! 

Considering that users will tend to interact with stablecoins more often, the need for an alternative to deposits is becoming more evident. Old-fashioned banking will sooner or later be vanquished by the independent and corporate-free competition, taken down by the desire of individuals to have more control over their wealth — numerous DeFi protocols engaged in competitors’ race.

Stepping into the No Middle Man’s Land

We stand at the intersection of two perspectives in market direction. The role of stablecoins in cryptocurrency will rise further, and more opportunities to capitalize on assets without the risk of losing your principal in a killing offer one can’t refuse. Decentralized Finance, despite the hype, is in its infancy at the moment. We’ll surely see another few leaps in progress over the following years that will take us to the unbelievably exciting era of financial freedom and income.

4 Simple Steps To Start Making Cannabis And CBD-Infused Vegan Goodies

This article by Shannon was originally published on NisonCo and appears here with permission.

Using hemp and cannabis as an ingredient in dishes can be intimidating. You may not know where to start, what you need to start, or what you can get out of infused recipes. If you’re a vegan consumer, the list of fears can be even more daunting. For example, why is it so hard to find vegan edibles in dispensaries? Does everything need to have cannabutter in it? How much knowledge does crafting vegan cannabis cuisine need?

As a cannabis and plant-based PR firm, we’re here to help make your experience in the kitchen as enjoyable as possible. Follow these tips to get started. You’ll be whipping up vegan cannabis brownies in no time!

1. Choose Your Adventure

If you’re new to cooking with hemp and cannabis, it’s important to think about what you hope to gain from the activity. Are you hoping to cut down your trips to the dispensaries and become your own edible supplier? Are you looking for a customized high that you have complete control of? Are you looking for a new ingredient to inspire you in the kitchen? Or seeking to take advantage of a variety of health benefits?

Whatever the reason might be, it’s a good idea to flesh out your curiosities and create a game plan that will help you achieve your end goal.

2. Understanding Infusion

While you don’t need a library of knowledge to get into baking, it does help to learn some basics. An infusion, in this case, is any product that contains hemp or cannabis as an active ingredient. Hemp infusions have a calming effect and can reduce pain and anxiety. Cannabis infusions have an intoxicating effect, and provide an alternative to smoking or vaporizing. 

There is a myriad of ways to create infusions. Buy ingredients such as “hemp milk” and “cannabutter” or make them from scratch. Hemp milk is plant-based and made from only two ingredients, hemp seeds, and water. Decarboxylated cannabis and butter create cannabutter. Decarboxylation activates THC in cannabis, and it can be done by baking your cannabis in the oven before you add it to your butter, or better yet with a specialized product like Ardent Cannabis’ Nova Decarboxylator. Make the cannabutter vegan by using your favorite plant-based butter. 

If you want to make things even easier on yourself, purchase cannabis or hemp oil and add it to whatever you make, like any cooking/baking oil!

3. Think About Dosage

The effects of infused products are potent and long-lasting. This is because the active ingredient (THC or CBD) is digested rather than inhaled. The “dosage” of a product refers to how much of the active ingredient it contains. While it can be tempting to “wing it” when dosing a dish, a lack of planning could result in a product that is either way too potent or has no effect at all. We measure THC and CBD doses in milligrams. The dosage tells us how many milligrams of active ingredients are in a product. 

A common dosage is 10 milligrams of active ingredient per serving. However, if you are looking to microdose you could begin with as little as 2.5 milligrams of active ingredient per serving. Whatever effect you are going for, the best advice is to start low and work your way up. You can always consume more of your dish, but there is not much you can do about a dose that is too high. 

It is also a good move to consider what you’re going to do after consuming your infused dish. Looking to have a little fun while working from home this summer? Try out a microdose! Want to hang out and listen to music? Go for something a little more intense!

Remember to measure out your active ingredient, and always be aware of how much you’re consuming.

4. Get Creative

Cooking with hemp or cannabis can be so much more than just brownies! A recipe doesn’t have to be hemp or cannabis-specific to be infused: You can add THC and CBD to any of your favorite recipes, including beverages. You can even try making a whole meal out of it like our very own writer, Kelly, did with her Hemp Lentil Soup. Simply use plant-based butter to make it vegan.

Whatever your taste in food is, chances are you can add hemp or cannabis to it to make it even better. So hop on over to the kitchen, and whether the result is a culinary masterpiece or a learning opportunity, remember to take the basics with you and have fun with your high cuisine!

Photo by Managing Editor Marissa Smith

A Corporate Bond ETF For Conservative ETFs

Investment-grade corporate bonds and related exchange traded funds are options to consider for fixed income investors looking for higher yields and potentially better total returns than what's offered by Treasuries and traditional diversified bond funds.

The Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF (NASDAQ: VCIT) is a cost-effective avenue for accessing investment-grade corporate debt. VCIT's annual expense ratio is just 0.07 percent, or $7 on a $10,000 position, making it cheaper than 91 percent of rival funds, according to Vanguard data.

“This exchange-traded fund provides market-cap-weighted exposure to investment-grade U.S. corporate bonds with between five and 10 years until maturity,” said Morningstar in a Wednesday note.

“It is one of the lowest-cost options in the corporate-bond Morningstar Category and has tightly tracked the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. 5-10 Year Corporate Bond Index. While there's plenty to like here, it's important to note that this fund has heavy exposure to the financial services sector, which could be a source of risk. It earns a Morningstar analyst rating of Silver.”

What Happened

Last year, investors added $8.06 billion to VCIT, good for one of the best asset-gathering tallies among all fixed-income ETFs. The inflow came even as the Federal Reserve boosted interest rates three times. The Fed raised interest rates in March, but VCIT has seen nearly $410 million in year-to-date inflows.

VCIT is down more than 4 percent year-to-date, pushing its yield to 3.34 percent — a healthy margin above 10-year Treasuries.

Why It's Important

VCIT has an average duration of 6.4 years and an average effective maturity of 7.5 years. Over 92 percent of the fund's nearly 1,750 holdings are rated A or Baa. Additionally, the ETF's exposure to bonds issued by financial services companies is rising.

“Roughly one-third of the portfolio is invested in the financials sector. Its average sector exposure was less than one-fourth of the portfolio from 2010 to 2016, according to Morningstar data. Any negative developments in this sector could hurt the fund's performance,” the research firm said.

“This concentration is mostly driven by large U.S. banks, which have issued a record amount of debt since 2010 to take advantage of low rates and meet the strict post-crisis capital requirements.”

What's Next

Further interest rate hikes, which are expected, could prompt bond investors to depart high-yield corporate debt. Some of those investors could transition to investment-grade fare such as VCIT. The key is VCIT's ability to endure rate hikes — and how high Treasury yields move.

Related Links:

Evaluating International Multi-Factor ETFs

Help For Small-Cap ETFs

USD/JPY Can Ride To 110.25 Almost Uninterrupted Confluence Detector

This Aaticle originally appeared on FXStreet.

The Technical Confluences Indicator shows that after the USD/JPY broke to the highest since February, it faces a dense cluster of resistance only at ¥110.25. This area is the meeting place of the Pivot Point one month R3 and the Simple Moving Average 200-one-day. Both are long-term, potent levels.

The pair may face light resistance at ¥109.50, the confluence point of the Bolinger Band one hour Upper and the Pivot Point one day R2. However, these lines are not that strong.

On the downside, the USD/JPY faces plenty of support. An immediate cushion awaits at ¥109.15, where we see a congestion of the SMA10-15m, the Pivot Point one-day R1, the SMA5-15m, and the Bolinger Band 15m-Upper (Stdv. 2.2).

The next significant confluence is quite close:¥108.90 which concentrates the SMA10-4h, the BB 15m-Lower, the SMA100-15m, the BB one hour-Middle, the SMA50-15m, and the Fibonacci 38.2 percent one-day.

All in all, the path of least resistance is to the upside. The pair already worked its way through dense areas of resistance thanks to higher US bond yields.

Here is how it looks:

usd_jpy_confluence_levels_april_25_2018_technical_chart-636602417852291004.png

Confluence Detector

The Confluence Detector finds interesting opportunities using Technical Confluences. The TC is a tool to locate and point out those price levels where there is a congestion of indicators, moving averages, Fibonacci levels, Pivot Points, etc. Knowing where these congestion points are located is very useful for the trader, and can be used as a basis for different strategies.

This tool assigns a certain amount of “weight” to each indicator, and this “weight” can influence adjacents price levels. This means that one price level without any indicator or moving average but under the influence of two “strongly weighted” levels accumulate more resistance than their neighbors. In these cases, the tool signals resistance in apparently empty areas.

Learn more about Technical Confluences