Bitcoin is in a free fall – tumbling to a two-week low amid an intensifying cryptocurrency crackdown in China.
China’s crackdown on mining has been an ongoing story since around 2013. But this time might be different.
Bitcoin fell to a two-week low amid an intensifying cryptocurrency crackdown in China.
The largest virtual currency fell 10% to $32,350 as of 8:50 a.m. in New York. Ether declined 13% to $1,950.
China announced on Monday that it summoned officials from its biggest banks to a meeting to reiterate a ban on providing cryptocurrency services. It’s the latest sign that China plan to do whatever it takes to close any loopholes left in crypto trading.
According to bitcoin aficionado Stephan Livera this latest crackdown, on one of the main regions for bitcoin mining, is the real deal.
This time seems like a more serious time. The largest mining pool operators have come out…so for example the leader of F2Pool (has said) from our numbers we’re seeing a very large drop in the amount of hash rate that’s coming to our pool out of China.”STEPHAN LIVERA, MINISTRY OF NODES
Bitcoin has many complex layers, it’s important to remember we’re talking specifically about bitcoin mining.
Mining is simply the process that sees new bitcoins entered into circulation. It’s also a critical component of the maintenance and development of the blockchain ledger. Mining is performed using very sophisticated computers that solve extremely complex computational math problems.
Chinese authorities are clamping down on the local mining operations that accounted for over 65% of Bitcoin’s global hash rate in 2020.
You might want to Google ‘bitcoin hash rate’, essentially it’s how often computers verify bitcoin transactions to secure the network.
The total hash rate has hit a new six-month low as China continues its clampdown on operations within the country.
What does this change mean for the future of bitcoin mining?
Livera says “it might be a turning point, an actual change in the industry. In terms of the composition in terms of where does the mining hash-rate come from. Because bitcoin is a decentralised project, what we ideally want to see is the hash-rate distributed around the world.”
So where to next?
Miners in China say their firms will pack up shop and move to North America with some predicting that China will lose crypto computing power to foreign markets.
Livera predicts short-term pain for long-term gain.
“Yes there is a short-term drop in the hash rate in the here and now. It’s unfortunately bad for Chinese miners. But it is good for anybody outside of China who is able to set up a mining operation, and be more profitable on the margin.”
A sell-off across the crypto markets took hold over the weekend. The world’s two dominant tokens bitcoin and ethereum both declined following China’s continuing crackdown particularly on the southwest province of Sichuan.
How these changes in bitcoin mining affect the long term price is a wait and see.
Brad Banducci quits as Woolworths Australia CEO after TV blow-up
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has revealed his decision to step down from his position, with Amanda Bardwell, head of loyalty and e-commerce, slated to succeed him as chief executive in September.
Bardwell’s appointment marks a historic moment as she becomes the first woman to lead the company in its nearly 100-year history.
Banducci’s departure comes at a critical juncture for Woolworths and its competitor, Coles, as they brace for an upcoming Senate inquiry led by the Greens.
The inquiry, scheduled for next month, is expected to scrutinise higher grocery costs, which Canberra has blamed for inflating supermarket profit margins at the expense of consumers.
This is what happened when Four Corners asked Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci about the lack of competition in the Australian grocery market.
— ABC News (@abcnews) February 19, 2024
In addition to the Senate inquiry, Labor has urged the competition regulator to investigate the supermarkets, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suggesting potential abuse of market power by the retailers.
Woolworths chairman Scott Perkins clarified that Banducci’s succession timeline was not accelerated in response to the scrutiny faced by the supermarket industry.
Perkins stated that interviews with potential candidates for the CEO position had been ongoing since the latter half of the previous year.
“There has been an ongoing dialogue with Brad,” Perkins told media. “There was no change to the timetable, no expedition at all.”
Importance of authenticity
Banducci acknowledged that he had considered delaying his departure but ultimately decided against it, citing the importance of authenticity. Despite the challenges facing the industry, he expressed confidence in Bardwell’s ability to lead Woolworths into the future.
Analysts reacted to the news with a mix of surprise and caution.
In financial terms, Woolworths’ food retail division reported a 5.2 percent increase in sales, or 6.6 percent excluding tobacco.
However, the company noted a moderation in prices, with average increases of 1.3 percent in the last three months of 2023.
Despite this, margins continued to improve, and earnings for the division rose by 8.2 percent.
Walmart reports holiday sales as shoppers seek better value
Walmart disclosed its fourth-quarter earnings showcasing a surge in sales during the holiday season, offering early insights into consumer spending trends amid a crucial period.
Despite a challenging economic climate, Walmart reported a 4 percent increase in comparable store sales for the three months ending in late January compared to the previous year.
The number of transactions also saw a notable uptick, rising by 4.3 percent. However, there was a slight decline of 0.3 percent in the average ticket price, indicating a tendency among shoppers to spend marginally less during their shopping trips.
The retail behemoth witnessed a significant boost in its online sales, with a 17 percent increase in the U.S. market and a remarkable 23 percent surge globally, surpassing the $100 billion mark. Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer, John David Rainey, attributed this growth partly to cost-saving measures in their e-commerce operations and the rising adoption of Walmart’s delivery services.
While the e-commerce sector saw substantial gains, there was a noted decrease in discretionary purchases such as electronics, as consumers prioritized essential items amidst economic uncertainties.
Walmart’s emphasis on value and affordability played a pivotal role in driving sales, particularly in its grocery segment.
The company’s CEO, Doug McMillon, highlighted Walmart’s commitment to offering competitive prices, leveraging its substantial grocery business.
In a strategic move to enhance its offerings, Walmart announced the acquisition of television manufacturer Vizio in a deal worth $2.3 billion, further expanding its Walmart Connect advertising and media business.
Millions of Australians are struggling with credit card repayments
Recent research has revealed a concerning trend: a significant number of Australians are falling behind on their credit card repayments, highlighting the financial strain faced by many households.
According to Finder’s Credit Card Report 2024, approximately 13% of Australian credit card holders, equivalent to nearly 1.8 million individuals, have missed at least one repayment in the past three months.
Of this group, 8% have fallen behind by 30 days, while 4% have missed payments by 60 days.
Alarmingly, 2% of cardholders have delayed repayments by more than 60 days.
Amy Bradney-George, a credit card expert at Finder, expressed concern over the prevalent misuse of credit cards, attributing it partly to the escalating cost of living.
Bradney-George warned that missing a credit card payment often incurs late fees and interest charges, exacerbating financial burdens for individuals.
Bradney-George emphasised the detrimental impact of late payments on credit scores.
She highlighted that a missed payment can be recorded on a credit file within just 14 days, potentially affecting an individual’s ability to secure loans or new credit cards in the future.
With details of late payments lingering on credit reports for up to two years, the consequences could be long-lasting.
Currently, there are over 13 million credit cards in circulation across Australia, accumulating a national debt of $18.1 billion subject to interest charges.
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