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Cryptocurrencies: Caveat Emptor, though stakeholders say they are here to stay

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Bitcoin

New Delhi, Feb 15: They went through a shocking decline recently. Bitcoin, the leader in cryptocurrencies, fell from its high of under $20,000 in mid-December to around $6,000 in value in less than two months.

It has recovered somewhat since then, but the world of cryptocurrencies has been shaken like never before. Yet its major stakeholders are still convinced that the virtual currencies, which are not linked to any authority or central bank, are here to stay.

The price graph of Bitcoins last year went up considerably, leading people to believe that it would be a one-sided market phenomenon, says Ajeet Khurana, Head of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee of the Internet and Mobile Association of India. “Now that there has been a price correction, it definitely shows maturing of the ecosystem,” he told IANS in an interview.

Maturing or shaken for good? Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his 2018 Budget speech earlier this month had said that cryptocurrencies were no legal tender and the government discouraged its use. He also said it would not allow its use for illegal activities.

“The government has said it is not a legal tender and it cannot be used for any digital payment. We will always agree with government directives. We are hopeful that with increase in awareness, misunderstanding among people will fade,” Khurana said.

Cryptocurrencies are “mined” through blockchain technology and massive computing power, which keeps a record of all transactions within its structure, available publicly. It is neither controlled, nor endorsed, by central bankers — except for Japan, where it has seen some legal acceptance.

The market cap of all such currencies has fallen from more than $800 billion at its height to less than half at present. In India, an estimated five million people have invested in such currencies which are stored digitally.

Industry stakeholders are now keeping their fingers crossed as they are hopeful that the Indian government would chalk out some sort of a framework for the cryptocurrency market by March this year. A committee set up by the government to look into issues relating to cryptocurrencies is expected to submit its report next month.

According to Khurana, many investors do not know enough about the currencies and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) panel is making efforts to increase awareness. “A significant number of participants do not have enough knowledge about cryptocurrencies. We keep sending cautionary notes in articles and video format in the public domain on a regular basis,” he added.

On December 29 last year, the Indian government had sounded an alarm cautioning investors in cryptocurrencies, comparing them to “Ponzi schemes”. The Finance Ministry statement had said that as virtual currencies were not backed by assets, their prices were entirely a matter of speculation.

“Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes… The price of Bitcoin and other VCs (virtual curencies), therefore, is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices. There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes,” the statement had said.

Cryptocurrency stakeholders are hopeful, though, that the government’s guidelines by March could infuse a new lease of life. “It has survived several jolts along its way. Despite the jolts, it continued to exist. Around 2014-15, the non-tech participants with significant risk appetite started showing interest in it,” Khurana said.

For now, it’s Caveat Emptor — buyer beware. But as in many get-rich-quick schemes, the early entrants have made huge gains, luring several others to put in their money into this new virtual world of overwhelming promise.

(Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])

IANS

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Mi India’s Republic Day Sale: List of TVs, Smart Bands, and Smartphones available at Huge discounts

Flipkart VIP, Amazon Prime, and Mi VIP Club members will be able to take advantage of this sale from January 19, a day before.

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Amazon Flipkart

Mi India has announced the Republic Day offer. The sale offers huge discount offers on a variety of products including smartphones, smart TVs, and Smart Bands.

Mi India’s Republic Days offer sale will start from 12 noon on January 20, 2021, which will continue till 11.59 PM on the night of January 24, 2021.

This offer can be enjoyed on the e-commerce sites Amazon, Flipkart, and Mi.com. Flipkart VIP, Amazon Prime, and Mi VIP Club members will be able to take advantage of this sale from January 19, a day before.

Mi Smart Band 4

Selling Price – 2,299

Sale price – 1,899

Mi TV Stick

Selling Price – 2,799

Sale price -2,299

Mi Box 4K

Selling Price – 3,499

Sale price – 3,299

Mi LED TV 4A PRO 108 cm (43)

Selling Price – 24,999

Sale Price – 23,999

Mi LED TV 4X 50

Selling Price – 34,999

Sale Price – 33,999

Mi Watch Revolve Midnight Black & Silver

Selling Price – 10,999

Sale price – 8,999

Earphones (TWS) – Mi True Wireless Earphones 2C

Selling Price – 2,499

Sale Price – 1,999

Earphones (TWS) – Mi True Wireless Earphones 2

Selling Price – 3,999

Sale price – 2,499

Mi Beard Trimmer 1C

Selling Price – 999

Sale Price – 799

Mi Smart Water Purifier (RO+UV)

Selling Price – 12,999

Sale price – 9,999

Redmi Earbuds S

Selling Price – 1,799

Sale price – 1,499

Redmi Smart Band

Selling Price – 1,599

Sale price – 1,299

Redmi 9i (4+ 64GB)

Selling Price – 8,299

Sale price – 7,999

Redmi 9 Prime (4+64GB)

Selling Price – 9,999

Sale price – 9,499

Redmi Note 9 (6+128GB)

Selling Price – 14,999

Sale price – 13,999

Redmi Note 9 Pro (4+128GB)

Selling Price – 15,999

Sale price – 13,999

Redmi Note 9 Pro Max (6+64GB)

Selling Price – 16,999

Sale Price – 14,999

Mi LED TV 4A PRO 80 cm (32)

Selling Price – 14,999

Sale Price – 14,499

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Dogfight: Airlines unleash deep discounts to dominate the sky

IndiGo’s Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer Sanjay Kumar said: “Low fares always helps stimulate the demand for the travel period far out and works as a part of airline strategy.”

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Preparing for Landing

New Delhi, Jan 19 : Fare wars induced deep discounting has reappeared in India’s aviation sector, as airlines seek to augment cash reserves, consolidate market share and bring back more capacity.

The first shot in this war of extremely low prices was fired recently with most airlines commencing their sales offers.

The development comes around a year since Covid-19 lockdown devastated the sector.

Industry insiders, however, now believe that the roll-out of anti-Covid-19 vaccination programme will give a boost to air travel.

Besides, some of the travel period offered under these schemes are beyond the current expiry of the fare cap imposed by the Centre.

IndiGo’s Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer Sanjay Kumar said: “Low fares always helps stimulate the demand for the travel period far out and works as a part of airline strategy.”

“These sales stimulate traffic among extremely price sensitive customers and helps airlines meet overall objectives.”

The latest passenger traffic data from the sector regulator DGCA indicate that the growth in passenger volumes is not yet adequate enough for a revival in the airline sector.

The aggregate passenger traffic in December 2020 at 73.27 lakh was still 43.7 per cent lower on a year-on-year basis.

“Lack of adequate demand in the post festive season along with higher available capacity has therefore, led a drop in passenger load factor for some of the airlines in December 2020 on a sequential basis vis-a-vis Nov 2020,” said Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer at Acuite Ratings & Research.

“Such a scenario is possibly leading to a deep discounting strategy from airline companies. This involves sale of seats over the next few months through an attractive discount or add ons to ensure higher PLF over the next 1-2 quarters.”

Nevertheless, deep discounts are expected to hurt the already fragile financial condition of the sector.

“It will have an impact on the profitability of airline operations which has already been under losses in the last few quarters. In our opinion, however, passenger demand will witness a significant improvement in the next few months with the tapering of the Covid infection rate as well as the progress on the vaccination,” Chowdhury said.

Apart from ensuring a minimum PLF in the coming months, experts contend that deep discounts will trigger liquidity enhancement for airlines.

“Low airfares this month indicate the expected dip in travel post holiday season in December. Airfares in Jan across key routes have decreased 15-20 per cent MoM,” said Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder & CTO, ixigo.

“Heavy discounts being rolled out by major domestic and international airlines will definitely woo travellers who are planning vacations this year. With government caps ending on March 31, the discounts will attract flyers to plan their trips in advance and accelerate recovery in bookings to pre-Covid levels this year.”

On the other hand, the government has till now permitted the industry players to operate at 80 per cent of their pre-Covid capacity.

The operational capacity deployment level is expected to reach pre-Covid mark by the end of calendar year’s first quarter.

“In the current scenario of impact on demand due to the pandemic, while some aircraft continue to be grounded, the passenger load factors (PLFs) of airlines have also been impacted despite the lower capacity,” said Kinjal Shah, Vice President, ICRA.

“Thus, airlines have to take a calculated call on fares and its impact on demand.”

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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Azim Premji and Dr Devi Shetty chosen for PCB awards

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

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Azim Premji Wipro

Bengaluru, Jan 19: The chairman of Wipro Limited Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.

Premji has been chosen for ‘Press Club Person of the Year’, while Dr Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the ‘Press Club Special Award.’

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will facilitate the awardees at a function scheduled for the third week of February, it said.

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