What is Delta in Options Trading?

In options trading, Delta is an important assessment tool used to measure risk sensitivity. Delta is a risk metric that compares changes in a derivative’s underlying asset price to the change in the price of the derivative itself.

Essentially it measures the sensitivity of a derivative’s price to a change in the underlying asset. Using Delta as part of an options assessment can help investors make better trades.

Delta is one of “the Greeks,” a set of options trading tools denoted by Greek letters. Some traders might refer to the Greeks as risk sensitivities, risk measures,or hedge parameters. The Delta metric is the most commonly used Greek.

Recommended: A Beginner’s Guide to Options Trading

Option Delta Formula

Analysts calculate Delta using the following formula with theoretical pricing models:

Δ = ∂V / ∂S

Where:

•   ∂ = the first derivative

•   V = the option’s price (theoretical value)

•   S = the underlying asset’s price

Some analysts may calculate Delta with the much more complex Black-Sholes model that incorporates additional factors. But traders generally don’t calculate the formula themselves, as trading software and exchanges do it automatically. Traders analyze these calculations to look for investment opportunities.

Option Delta Example

For each $1 that an underlying stock moves, an the equity derivative’s price changes by the Delta amount. Investors express the Delta sensitivity metric in basis points. For example, let’s say there is a long call option with a delta of 0.40. Investors would refer to this as “40 delta.” If the option’s underlying asset increased in price by $1.00, the option price would increase by $0.40.

However, the Delta amount is always changing, so the option price won’t always move by the same amount in relation to the underlying asset price. Various factors impact Delta, including asset volatility, asset price, and time until expiration.

If the price of the underlying asset increases, the Delta gets closer to 1.0 and a call option increases in value. Conversely, a put option becomes more valuable if the asset price goes lower than the strike price, and in this case Delta is negative.

How to Interpret Delta

Delta is a ratio that compares changes in the price of derivatives and their underlying assets. It uses theoretical price movements to track what will happen with changes in asset and option price. The direction of price movements will determine whether the ratio is positive or negative.

Bullish options strategies have a positive Delta, and bearish strategies have a negative Delta. It’s important to remember that unlike stocks, options buying and selling options does not indicate a bullish or bearish strategy. Sometimes buying a put option is a bearish strategy, and vice versa.

Recommended: Differences Between Options and Stocks

Traders use the Delta to gain an understanding of whether an option will expire in the money or not. The more an option is in the money, the further the Delta value will deviate from 0, towards either 1 or -1.

The more an option goes out of the money, the closer the Delta value gets to 0. Higher Delta means higher sensitivity. An option with a 0.9 Delta, for example, will change more if the underlying asset price changes than an option with a 0.10 Delta. If an option is at the money, the underlying asset price is the same as the strike price, so there is a 50% chance that the option will expire in the money or out of the money.

Call Options

For call options, delta is positive if the derivative’s underlying asset increases in price. Delta’s value in points ranges from 0 to 1. When a call option is at the money the Delta is near 0.50, meaning it has an equal likelihood of increasing or decreasing before the expiration date.

Put Options

For put options, if the underlying asset increases in price then delta is negative. Delta’s value in points ranges from 0 to -1. When a put option is at the money the Delta is near -0.50.

How Traders Use Delta

In addition to assessing option sensitivity, traders look to Delta as a probability that an option will end up in or out of the money. The more likely an option is to generate a profit, the less risky it is as an investment.

Every investor has their own risk tolerance, so some might be more willing to take on a risky investment if it has a greater potential reward. When considering Delta, traders recognize that the closer it is to 1 or -1 to greater exposure they have to the underlying asset.

If a long call has a Delta of 0.40, it essentially has a 40% chance of expiring in the money. So if a long call option has a strike price of $30, the owner has the right to buy the stock for $30 before the expiration date. There is a 40% chance that the stock’s price will increase to at least $30 before the option contract expires.

Traders also use Delta to put together options spread strategies.

Delta Neutral

Traders also use Delta to hedge against risk. One common options trading strategy, known as neutral Delta, is to hold several options with a collective Delta near 0.

The strategy reduces the risk of the overall portfolio of options. If the underlying asset price moves, it will have a smaller impact on the total portfolio of options than if a trader only held one or two options.

One example of this is a calendar spread strategy, in which traders use options with various expiration dates in order to get to Delta neutral.

Delta Spread

With a Delta spread strategy, traders buy and sell various options to create a portfolio that offsets so the overall Delta is near zero. With this strategy the trader hopes to make a small profit off of some of the options in the portfolio.

Using Delta Along With the other Greeks

Delta measures an option’s directional exposure. It is just one of the Greek measurement tools that traders use to assess options. There are five Greeks that work together to give traders a comprehensive understanding of an option. The Greeks are:

•   Delta (Δ): Measures the sensitivity between an option price and the price of the underlying security.

•   Gamma (Γ): Measures the rate at which Delta is changing.

•   Theta (θ): Measures the time decay of an option. Options become less valuable as the expiration date gets closer.

•   Vega (υ): Measures how much implied volatility affects an option’s value. The more volatility there is the higher an option premium becomes.

•   Rho (ρ): Measures an option’s sensitivity to changing interest rates.

The Takeaway

Delta is a useful metric for traders evaluating options and can help investors determine their options strategy. Traders often combine it with other tools and ratios during technical analysis. However, you don’t need to trade options in order to get started investing.

A great way to begin investing is by opening an investment account on the SoFi Invest® app. While SoFi does not offer options trading, it does allow you to research, track, buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and crypto right from your phone.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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Source: sofi.com

What Is Fibonacci Retracement in Crypto Trading?

A retracement level is the price at which a stock or cryptocurrency tends to see a reversal in its trend. Fibonacci retracement is a popular tool in technical analysis that helps determine support and resistance levels on a price chart.

What Are Fibonacci Retracement Levels?

Fibonacci numbers are a series where each number equals the sum of the two previous numbers. The most basic series is: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377 etc.

When it comes to technical analysis, investors use Fibonacci Replacement Levels, expressed as percentages, to analyze how much of a previous move a price has retraced. The most important Fibonacci Retracement levels are: 23.6% 38.2%, 50% and 61.8%.

Some analysts refer to 61.8% as “the golden ratio,” since it equals the division of one number in the series by the number that follows it. For example: 8/13 = 0.6153, and 55/89 = 0.6179.

The other Retracement levels reflect other calculations: Dividing one number by the number three places to its right equals 23.6%. For example: 8/34 = 0.2352. Bitcoin traders often use 78.6%, which is the square root of 0.618,

Some prefer the 0.618 and 0.382 levels because these are the retracement levels analysts believe are most likely to generate a trend reversal. These levels are considered inflection points where fear and greed can alter price action. When an asset is trending upward but loses momentum, it’s possible that a pullback to the 0.618 price level could result in a bounce upward, for example.

How Does Fibonacci Retracement Work and What Does it Do?

There are several theories as to why the fibonacci retracement works. Some of these include:

•   Fibonacci price levels reflect the effects of extreme fear and greed in the market. To use this to their advantage, traders might buy when people are panicking and sell when others are getting greedy.

•   Fibonacci patterns are often observed in nature as well as in mathematics. For example: fruits and vegetables. If one would look at the center of a sunflower, spiral patterns could appear to curve left and right. Counting these spirals, the total often is a Fibonacci number. If one could divide the spirals into those pointed left and right, then two consecutive Fibonacci numbers could be obtained. Therefore, it’s thought that these patterns may be important in financial markets as well.

•   The law of numbers: If a greater percentage of people practice Fibonacci crypto trading, then the likelihood of its accuracy increases.

At its core, a Fibonacci retracement is a mathematical measurement of a particular pattern. When it comes to Fibonacci in crypto, traders try to apply these patterns to price action to predict future price movements.

Who Created Fibonacci Retracements?

While traders commonly use Fibonacci in crypto today, the number sequences pre-date the invention of cryptocurrency by many centuries. Fibonacci numbers are based on the key numbers studied by mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (or Leonardo of Pisa) in the 13th century, although Indian mathematicians had identified them previously. He was a medieval Italian mathematician famous for his “Book of the Abacus”, the first European work on Indian and Arabian mathematics, which introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals to Europe.

Formula

In an uptrend or bullish market, the formulas for calculating Fibonacci retracement and extension levels are:

UR = High price – ((High price – Low price) * percentage) in an uptrend market; where UR is uptrend retracement.

UE = High price + ((High price – Low price) * percentage) in an uptrend market; where UE is an uptrend extension.

For example: A stock price range of $10 – $20, could depict a swing low to swing high.

Uptrend Retracement (UR) = $20 – (($20 – $10) * 0.618)) = $13.82 (utilizing 0.618 retracement)

Uptrend Extension (UE) = $20 + (($20 – $10) * 0.618)) = $26.18 (utilizing 0.618 retracement)

If a stock pulls back $13.82 could be a level that the stock bounces back to reach higher levels than its swing high price, e.g. $20. In an uptrend, the general idea is to take profits on a long trade at a Fibonacci price extension Level ~ $26.18.

What Does a Fibonacci Retracement do?

Markets don’t go straight up or down. There are pauses and corrections along the way. To buy stocks in an uptrend, one would look to get the best price possible.

Some traders use Fibonacci Retracement to determine how much a stock could pull back before continuing higher. Traders can use these retracement levels to find optimal prices at which to enter a trade.

A swing high happens when a security’s price reaches a peak before a decline. A swing high forms when the highest price reached is greater than a given number of highs around it.

Swing low is the opposite of swing high. It refers to the lowest price within a timeframe, usually fewer than 20 trading periods. A swing low occurs when a lowest price is lower than any other surrounding prices in a given period of time.

Support and Resistance

Support is the price level that acts as a floor, preventing the price from being pushed lower, while resistance is the high level that the price reaches over time. Analysts often illustrate these as horizontal lines on a graph.

A support or resistance level can also represent a pivot point, or point from which prices have a tendency to reverse if they bounce (in the case of support) or retreat (in the case of resistance) from that level.

Learn more: Support and Resistance: What Is It? How To Use It for Trading

Limitations of Fibonacci Retracement

Fibonacci retracements in crypto or other markets may be slightly predictive. But over relying on them can be counterproductive for reasons such as:

•   Fibonacci retracements, like any other indicators, could be used effectively only if investors understand it completely. It could end up being risky if not used properly.

•   There are no guarantees that prices will end up at that point, and retrace as the theory indicates.

•   Fibonacci retracement sequences are often close to each other, therefore it may be tough to accurately predict future price movements.

•   Using technical analysis tools like Fibonacci retracements can give investors tunnel vision, where they only see price action through this one indicator. Assuming that any single indicator is always correct can be problematic.

A Fibonacci retracement in crypto trading could wind up being even less predictive than in other financial markets due to the extreme volatility that cryptocurrencies often experience.

Fibonacci Retracements and Bitcoin

Fibonacci retracements can also be used for trading cryptos such as Bitcoin (BTC), similarly to how they’re used in stocks. In this case, one would use the levels 23.6%, 38.2%, 50%, 61.8% and 78.6% to determine where the cryptocurrency price would reverse.

Crypto prices are very volatile, and leverage trading is common. Leverage is the use of borrowed funds to increase the trading position, beyond what would be available from the cash balance alone. Therefore, it can be important to have some reference as to when the price could reverse, to not incur major losses.

Using the Fibonacci Retracement Tool to Trade Cryptocurrencies

In order to get started with a Fibonacci Retracement Tool, a trader could find a completed trend for a crypto, say, Bitcoin, which could either be an uptrend or downtrend.

Below are some steps on how to use Fibonacci retracement tool:

1.    Determine the direction of the market. Is it an uptrend or downtrend?

2.    For an uptrend, determine the two most extreme points (bottom and top) on the Bitcoin price chart. Attach the Fibonacci retracement tool on the bottom and drag it to the right, all the way to the top.

3.    For a downtrend, the extreme points are top and bottom and the retracement tool could be dragged from the top to the bottom.

4.    For an uptrend or downtrend, one could monitor the potential support levels: 0.236, 0.382, 0.5 and 0.618.

Recommended: Crypto Technical Analysis: What It Is & How to Do One

Fibonacci Retracement Example for Bitcoin

In December 2017, Bitcoin fell from $13,112 to around $10,800, within a short timeframe. After that, it rallied up to $12k twice, but did not break above that level until 2021. That indicates a bearish pattern, as it couldn’t break above its previous high. In technical analysis it is called a double top.

On the Fibonacci tool, the $12k resistance point coincided with the 50% level of retracement. When the price could not reach this level, it started to fall again. In this scenario, traders using Fibonacci Retracement might consider this a good time to exit a long position or establish a short position. A short trade is based on the speculation that the price of Bitcoin is going to fall.

By February, 2018, the trade materialized as Bitcoin continued its downtrend falling all the way to $9,270. The short trade would have worked and traders could have realized a profit from using the crypto Fibonacci Retracement tool, although those who managed to HODL for years after that would have made even more.

FAQ

Does Fibonacci retracement work with crypto?

While the Fibonacci retracement tool is traditionally used for analyzing stocks or trading currencies in the forex market, some analysts believe it is also helpful in determining a crypto trading strategy.

How accurate is fibonacci retracement?

In crypto, Fibonacci retracement levels are often fairly accurate, although no indicator is perfect and they are best used in combination with other research. The accuracy levels increase with longer timeframes. For example, a 50% retracement on a weekly chart is a more important technical level than a 50% retracement on a five-minute chart.

What are the advantages of using fibonacci retracement?

Here are some benefits of using Fibonacci Retracement.

•   Trend prediction. With the correct setting and levels, it can often predict the price reversals of bitcoin at early levels, with a high probability.

•   Flexibility. Fibonacci Retracement works for assets of any market and any timeframe. One must note that longer time frames could result in a more accurate signal.

•   Fair assessment of market psychology. Fibonacci levels are built on both a mathematical algorithm and the psychology of the majority, which is a fair assessment of market sentiment.

The Takeaway

The Fibonacci Retracement tool can help identify hidden levels of support and resistance so that analysts can better time their trades. Analysts believe this tool is more effective when utilized with types of cryptocurrency that have higher market-capitalization, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, because they have more established trends over extended time frames.They consider it less effective on cryptocurrencies with a smaller market capitalization.

Whether you use Fibonacci Retracement or other methods to create your cryptocurrency trading strategy, a great way to get started is by opening a brokerage account on the SoFi Invest investment app. You can use it to trade more than a dozen different coins, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Cardano, and Dogecoin.

Photo credit: iStock/HAKINMHAN


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
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Source: sofi.com

What Is a Ledger Wallet? An Overview

Ledger is a brand of crypto hardware wallets. They are among the most trusted in the industry and were responsible for bringing the first hardware wallets to market.

In the years since Ledger’s debut, many other wallet makers have hit the scene. But the Ledger name is still synonymous with secure crypto hardware wallets. The company derives its name from blockchain technology. Understanding the question “what is a crypto ledger” sheds light on why the company chose this name.

What Is a Crypto Ledger?

The term “crypto ledger,” or simply ledger, refers to the public ledger of transactions recorded on the blockchain. These transactions are recorded in the form of Bitcoin addresses. Whenever someone makes a transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain or any other blockchain, the transaction is recorded in the blockchain ledger along with the relevant information. This includes the time the transaction occurred, the amount sent, the sender and recipient’s addresses, and the current number of network confirmations.

A new blockchain begins with something called a “genesis block.” This is a manufactured block to start things off because no transactions have occurred yet. From that point on, transactions are grouped into additional “blocks,” with each block being added to the one that came before it. Subsequent blocks form a “chain,” giving rise to the term blockchain. A blockchain is, therefore, a public ledger of transactions.

Ledger, the company, is a leader in the cryptocurrency hardware wallet space. In 2014, they released the first such wallet to the general public.

Recommended: Cryptocurrency 101: A Beginner’s Guide

How Does a Ledger Wallet Work?

First, a brief answer to the question “what is a cryptocurrency wallet”: Wallets are where people send and receive crypto. Hot wallets hold private keys online while cold wallets (such as hardware wallets) hold keys offline. Hot storage vs. cold storage in crypto is an important distinction to make.

Ledger wallets are designed for newer users. Getting started is rather easy. The wallets require a separate application, also made by Ledger, to work. This app, called Ledger Live, lets users interact with their hardware wallet on a desktop or laptop computer.

The display of a Ledger crypto wallet has two parts: the small screen on the device itself and the Ledger Live app on a computer or mobile device. Most users’ actions take place in the app, although pushing one or both small buttons on the device itself is required to confirm some actions, like sending transactions.

The buttons are also used to navigate between the different cryptocurrency wallets. Each wallet is referred to as its own app within Ledger Live. For each crypto they want to manage, users have to install the appropriate app first.

What Are the Different Types of Ledger Wallets in Crypto?

Ledger makes two different wallet types:

1.    Ledger Nano S

2.    Ledger Nano X

Ledger Nano S

The Nano S has become known as one of the most popular and best-selling crypto hardware wallets to date. That said, it only has enough memory for about three apps at a time. That means users who want to work with more than three cryptocurrencies will have to repeatedly uninstall and reinstall new apps.

For example, say someone holds Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. If they also want to use Dogecoin, they will have to uninstall the Litecoin app and install the Dogecoin app. Any Litecoin balance will still be held on the wallet, but to access it and send transactions, the Litecoin app will need to be reinstalled, which would require uninstalling an existing app.

Apps for different cryptocurrencies take different amounts of memory, so the potential number of installed apps may be higher than three. While limited currencies can be managed at one time, the list of Ledger-supported crypto is 1,800 coins long.

Ledger Nano X

The Nano X is the newer, upgraded version of the Nano S. Both wallets work with the Ledger Live app, and function in generally the same manner. However, the Nano X has a few extra features and allows for the storage of many more crypto apps at once.

While the Nano S supports only 3-7 apps at a time, the Nano X supports up to 100. Ledger Nano X users can connect to the app via mobile devices as well, thanks to the Nano X’s Bluetooth compatibility.

The Nano X can also run off of battery power and connect to a mobile device via Bluetooth. All of these extra features and upgraded functionality help explain why someone might choose the more expensive Ledger Nano X over the Nano S.

Why Consider Getting a Ledger Wallet?

The biggest reason to consider getting a Ledger wallet is for the additional security. Holding crypto in a hardware wallet results in greater security for two main reasons:

1.    Coins can be held offline in cold storage.

2.    Private keys are held by the individual.

Holding coins in cold storage means the private keys aren’t connected to the internet, so there’s no way for hackers to access them. While a hardware wallet generally has to be connected to an internet-connected device to send transactions, when not doing so the wallet will be completely offline.

Holding the private keys yourself means there’s no need to trust a third-party like an exchange. If an exchange gets hacked, and there’s no insurance policy, then users could be left empty-handed. This might be why those who hold large sums of crypto choose to make the investment in a hardware wallet like those made by Ledger.

Let’s take a closer look at how hardware wallets, and wallets made by Ledger specifically, come with increased security for long-term storage of cryptocurrency.

Ledger Hardware Wallet Security

Ledger wallets come with the following security features:

1.    24-word backup recovery seed phrase

2.    PIN

3.    Certified Secure Element (CC EAL 5+) hardware

When setting up a new wallet, users have to create a PIN that will be used to access the wallet. A seed phrase is also provided.

This 24-word string can be used to restore the balances held on a wallet. It’s best to keep that phrase somewhere safe and never store it digitally. Anyone with access to the seed phrase can steal the private keys, and therefore the coins, from your wallet. The seed phrase and PIN come standard with most hardware wallets.

Ledger uses something called Secure Element chips. Chips like these are also used to protect credit cards, SIM cards and passports. Ledger wallets are certified as being secure by an independent third-party.

There are different degrees of Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL), and Ledger has achieved the level EAL 5+. There are only two levels higher than EAL 5. According to Ledger , they are the only company that makes hardware wallets that have earned this level of security certification.

The Takeaway

A Ledger wallet for digital currencies can be used to hold crypto in a more secure manner. Cold storage is considered to be the ultimate in blockchain security measures.

While hardware wallets like those made by Ledger come with increased security for crypto, they also require greater user responsibility. Using a hardware wallet means you hold the private keys to your crypto, rather than them being held on an exchange. If you make a mistake like losing your PIN and backup seed phrase, the crypto held on that wallet will be gone forever. There’s nothing that Ledger or anyone else will be able to do to help.

That’s why investors holding a small amount of crypto might not need a crypto wallet like Ledger. For some people, a trusted third-party custodian like an exchange might be the best option.

Interested in investing in crypto? With SoFi Invest®, you can trade cryptocurrency online from a collection of more than two dozen coins including Bitcoin, Chainlink, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Solana, Litecoin, Cardano, and Enjin Coin.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/Free Life Design


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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Source: sofi.com

The ‘Bividend’: What’s Up With BTCS’s Bitcoin Dividend?

Apparently “bividends” are going to be a thing now. 

BTCS (BTCS, $4.36), a self-proclaimed blockchain technology-focused company, on Wednesday announced the first-ever dividend payable in bitcoin by a Nasdaq-listed company. 

And while it might be contradictory in nature to the purpose of traditional cash dividends, you can probably still expect more bividends to pop up from other companies down the road.

The BTCS “Bividend”

BTCS intends to pay shareholders of record a one-time dividend of 5 cents per share in bitcoin, based on the bitcoin price on the ex-dividend date. Investors who do not elect to receive the bividend in bitcoin will receive a cash dividend of 5 cents per share. 

“We want to reward our long-time shareholders for their continued support and encourage financial freedom by providing the means to enable direct ownership of bitcoin and other digital assets,” CEO Charles Allen said in a press release.

Before you can say “make it stop,” know that plenty of crypto-commenters have already begun poking holes in the premise of paying dividends in bitcoin. 

Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Closing Bell e-letter: Our daily look at the stock market’s most important headlines, and what moves investors should make.

For one thing, above all else, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general are attractive primarily as speculative assets. Traders love them for their volatility and return potential.

No one buys bitcoin for its future cash flow because bitcoin has no future cash flow. Buying bitcoin for income – that is, for the dividends, which are paid out of cash flow – makes even less sense.

And this is a one-time dividend to boot.

A Stunt? Possibly. But Bividends Might Be Here to Stay

All you really need to know, in the words of Bloomberg’s Matt Levine, is that BTCS “is a somewhat unloved micro-cap company,” but it did pull off an effective marketing trick. After all, BTCS shares popped more than 40% the day of the news drop.

“A bividend is a terrible name but an obviously good meme-y crypto stunt to increase attention,” Levine writes. “BTCS will pay about $500,000 in bividends, which bought it about $15 million of market cap. Just a good trade!”

But also be aware that BTCS stock is still off nearly 50% since its September Nasdaq debut. Its market cap, at less than $45 million, remains pitiable. And its daily average volume of 1.2 million shares reveals a distinct lack of interest among market participants on most trading days. 

Where this gets interesting – or maddening, depending upon your point of view – is that BTCS is unlikely to be the last issuer of a crypto dividend. That’s because, if nothing else, BTCS’ move worked remarkably well as an attention-getting device. Somewhat regrettably, we’re talking about BTCS in this post right now

But the firm’s one-time bitcoin (or cash) payout doesn’t change the investment thesis on BTCS stock (whatever that might be).

As for the concept of bividends more broadly, it stands to reason we’ll see copycats – and probably plenty of them – soon enough. Suffice to say that for the time being – and then some – quaint, old-fashioned common stock dividend investors would do well to tune out this noise.

Source: kiplinger.com

11 Surprising Things That Are Taxable

If you work for a living, you know that your wages are taxable, and you’re probably aware that some investment income is taxed, too. But, unfortunately, the IRS doesn’t stop there.

If you’ve picked up some extra cash through luck, skill or even criminal activities, there’s a good chance you owe taxes on that money as well. To avoid being caught off guard when it’s time to file your return, take a look at our list of 11 surprising things that are actually taxable. If you collected any of the income or property on the list, make sure you declare it on your next tax return!

1 of 11

Scholarships

graduation cap on moneygraduation cap on money

If you receive a scholarship to cover tuition, fees and books, you don’t have to pay taxes on the money. But if your scholarship also covers room and board, travel and other expenses, that portion of the award is taxable.

Students who receive financial aid in exchange for work, such as serving as a teaching or research assistant, must also pay tax on that money, even if they use the proceeds to pay tuition.

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Gambling Winnings

people playing crapspeople playing craps

What happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas. Gambling income includes (but isn’t limited to) winnings from lotteries, horse races, casinos and sports betting (including fantasy sports). The payer is required to issue you a Form W2-G (which will also be reported to the IRS) if you win $1,200 or more from bingo or slot machines, $1,500 or more from keno, more than $5,000 from a poker tournament, or $600 or more from other wagers if your take is more than 300 times the amount of your bet. But even if you don’t receive a W2-G, the IRS expects you to report your gambling proceeds on your tax return.

The good news: If you itemize, your gambling losses are deductible, but only to the extent of the winnings you report as income. For example, if you won $4,000 last year and had $5,000 in losing bets, your deduction for the losses is limited to $4,000. You can’t deduct the balance against other income or carry it forward.

Your state may want a piece of the action, too. Your home state will generally tax all your income (if it has an income tax) — including gambling winnings. But also watch out for a tax bill if you place a winning bet in another state. You won’t be taxed twice, though. The state where you live should give you a tax credit for the taxes you pay to the other state. Also, check to see if your state allows a deduction for gambling losses.

3 of 11

Unemployment Benefits

picture of man who was just firedpicture of man who was just fired

Millions of Americans have received unemployment compensation during the pandemic – many for the first time. While these benefits provide an important lifeline during tough times, they could also produce an unexpected tax bill.

Unemployment benefits are a form of income, and that income is generally taxable at the federal level. In some cases, state taxes are due on unemployment benefits, too. (State treatment varies, so check out our State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Unemployment Benefits to see what your state does.) According to the IRS, unemployment compensation, for the most part, includes any amounts received under federal or state unemployment compensation laws, including state unemployment insurance benefits and benefits paid to you by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund.

You have the option to have as much as 10% of your weekly benefits withheld for federal taxes. Taxpayers will receive a Form 1099-G from the IRS, which shows the amount received and the amount of any federal income tax removed from your benefits. Taxes may be withheld from unemployment benefits at the request of the benefits claimant by using Form W-4V, while others who choose not to have their taxes withheld may need to make estimated tax payments during the year.

4 of 11

Cancelled Debt

picture of the word debt being erasedpicture of the word debt being erased

Don’t get too excited if a credit card company says you don’t have to pay off the rest of your balance. That’s because debt that is cancelled or otherwise discharged for less than the amount you owe is generally treated as taxable income. This applies to credit card bills, car loans, mortgages, or any other debt that you owe. So, for example, if your bank says you don’t have to pay $2,000 of the $6,000 you still owe on a car loan, you have $2,000 of cancellation of debt income that you must report on your next tax return.

There are some exceptions to the general rule, such as for student loans, debts discharged in bankruptcy, qualified farm indebtedness and a few other types of debt. Also, in the case of “nonrecourse” debt — i.e., where the lender can repossess any collateral property if you fail to pay, but you’re not personally liable for the unpaid debt — any cancelled debt is not considered taxable income (although you might realize gain or loss from the repossession).

If you do have a debt forgiven, the creditor may send you a Form 1099-C showing the amount of cancelled debt. The IRS will get a copy of the form, too — so don’t think Uncle Sam won’t know about it.

5 of 11

Stolen Property

picture of robber holding gun and moneypicture of robber holding gun and money

If you robbed a bank, embezzled money or staged an art heist last year, the IRS expects you to pay taxes on the proceeds. “Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income,” the IRS says. Bribes are also taxable.

In reality, few criminals report their ill-gotten gains on their tax returns. But if you’re caught, the feds can add tax evasion to the list of charges against you. That’s what happened to notorious gangster Al Capone, who served 11 years for tax evasion. Capone never filed a tax return, the IRS says.

6 of 11

Buried Treasure

picture of treasure chestpicture of treasure chest

In September 2020, a man found a 9-carat diamond in the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Pike County, Arkansas. It was the second-largest diamond ever found in the park and could be worth more than $1 million.

But be aware that if you find a diamond in the rough, unearth a cache of gold coins in your backyard or discover sunken treasure while deep-sea diving, the IRS wants a piece of your booty. Found property is taxable at its fair market value in the first year it’s your undisputed possession, the IRS says.

The precedent for the IRS’s “treasure trove” rule dates back to 1964, when a couple discovered $4,467 in a used piano they had purchased for $15. The IRS said the couple owed income taxes on the money, and a U.S. District Court agreed.

7 of 11

Gifts from Your Employer

picture of gold club with gift bow on itpicture of gold club with gift bow on it

Ordinarily, gifts aren’t taxable, even if they’re worth a lot of money. But if your employer gives you a new set of golf clubs to recognize a job well done (or to persuade you to reject a job offer from a competitor), you’ll probably owe taxes on the value of your new irons.

More than 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that a gift from an employer can be excluded from the employee’s income if it was made out of “detached and disinterested generosity.” Gifts that reward an employee for his or her services don’t meet that standard, the court said. Gifts that help promote the company don’t meet that standard, either.

8 of 11

Bitcoin

picture of bitcoin logopicture of bitcoin logo

While you can use bitcoin to purchase a variety of goods and services, the IRS considers bitcoin — along with other cryptocurrencies — to be an asset. If the bitcoin you used to make a purchase is worth more than you paid for it, you’re expected to pay taxes on your profits at capital gains rates — just like stocks and bonds.

Also be warned that, as the use of cryptocurrency increases, the IRS is starting to pay more attention to it. For instance, since 2019, the tax agency has been sending letters to people who may not have reported transactions in virtual currencies. Plus, the 2021 Form 1040 includes a line asking taxpayers if they received, sold, sent, exchanged or otherwise acquired any financial interest in any virtual currency during the tax year. 

Some cryptocurrency platforms are sending investors statements that provide a record of their transactions. But even if you didn’t get a statement, you’re responsible for paying taxes on your crypto gains.

If your employer pays you in bitcoin or some other virtual currency, it must be reported on your W-2 form, and you must include the fair market value of the currency in your income. It’s also subject to federal income tax withholding and payroll taxes.

9 of 11

Bartering

picture of people trading an apple for a cupcakepicture of people trading an apple for a cupcake

When you exchange property or services in lieu of cash, the fair market value of the goods and services are fully taxable and must be included as income on Form 1040 for both parties. But an informal exchange of similar services on a noncommercial basis, such as carpooling, is not taxable.

If you exchanged property or services through a barter exchange, you should expect to receive a Form 1099-B (or a similar statement) in the mail. It will show the value of cash, property, services, credits or scrip you received from bartering.

10 of 11

Payment for Donated Eggs

picture of a petry dishpicture of a petry dish

Every year, thousands of young, healthy women donate their eggs to infertile couples. Payments for this service generally range from $6,500 to $30,000, according to Egg Donation, Inc., a company that matches donors with couples. Those payments are taxable income, according to the U.S. Tax Court. Fertility clinics typically send donors and the IRS a Form 1099 documenting the payment.

11 of 11

The Nobel Prize

picture of Nobel Prizepicture of Nobel Prize

If you were selected for this prestigious honor — worth about $1.1 million in 2021 — you must pay taxes on it.

Other awards that recognize your accomplishments, such as the Pulitzer Prize for journalists, are also taxable. The only way to avoid a tax hit is to direct the money to a tax-exempt charity before receiving it. That’s what President Obama did when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. If you accept the money and then give it to charity, you probably will have to pay taxes on some of it because the IRS ordinarily limits charitable deductions to 60% of your adjusted gross income (for the 2021 tax year, under a provision in the CARES Act, you can deduct donations of up to 100% of your AGI to charity).

Source: kiplinger.com

11 Super-Simple Ways to Build Wealth in 2022

A wealthy couple
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, some people are born wealthy and others achieve wealth. If you weren’t lucky enough to be in the first group, then it’s time to get going on your self-made fortune.

Think that can’t happen? You’re wrong. Pathways to wealth are everywhere. Why shouldn’t you take them?

Some of these smart choices will save you money upfront. Next, use that money to make more money through strategies like fractional investing and online wealth management.

Want to put yourself on the road to riches? These tactics can help.

1. Used Chevy or new Mercedes?

Save $100 a month, earn 1% on it and after 20 years you’ll have $26,545. Enough for a used Chevy.

Boost that percentage to 15%, and you’ll end up with $124,569 after 20 years. That’s nearly $100,000 more: enough for a new Mercedes.

Of course, earning 15% isn’t easy (the stock market’s average return is about 10%) and never guaranteed, but here’s something that is guaranteed: You won’t be earning big returns at the bank.

If you want to super-charge your savings, you’ve got to invest.

Plenty of people grow up thinking that “investing” is something only rich people do. Not so! You can start your investing journey with as little as $1, without paying a dime in fees, thanks to an investing app called Public.

With the Public app, you take part in “fractional investing,” which means buying little slivers of companies, funds or crypto assets. Take your choice from among thousands of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and stocks.

Start by signing up and telling the app what investing experience (if any) you have and what your investing goals are. According to Public, 90% of users are in it for the long haul.

There’s no charge to join, although you’re allowed to leave tips on transactions. And again: You can start with as little as $1. What else can you get for a buck these days? Even dollar stores are raising their prices!

Download the app now, and take the first step toward getting rich instead of just getting by.

2. Chop your car insurance bill by $700 a year

Auto insurance is a must. You know what isn’t a must? Paying too much for coverage.

People who switch to Progressive for their auto insurance can save up to $700 – not just initially, but every year. Imagine what you could do with an extra $700 in your budget.

Emergency fund? Extra payment against your mortgage? Retirement planning? It’s your call. Point is, those are dollars that are now working for you instead of for someone else.

Incidentally, a cheaper premium doesn’t mean you’re cheaping out on protection. Progressive is known for its strong coverage. Request your free quote now and see how much you can save this year, and every year.

3. Let mortgage savings put your kids through college

If you’re currently paying about 4% on your mortgage, refinancing could lower your rate to as low as 2.376%.

Not much of a difference, right?

Well, if your mortgage is $300,000, that lower rate would mean paying about $94,000 less in interest over the life of the loan. That’s enough to put your kids through college, start your own business or retire earlier.

Maybe you know the savings would be significant, but haven’t refinanced yet because it seems so complicated. It isn’t. A direct lender called Better will make it child’s play.

The simplifying starts with a near-instant rate quote, and continues through the refinancing process. Better doesn’t charge origination fees or lender fees, and you can get a mortgage interest rate lock if you like.

Millions of homeowners around the country are saving every month because they refinanced. But the experts are saying these low rates won’t last. It’s do-it-or-lose-it time.

Get your new, personalized rate today, and make strides toward a better tomorrow.

4. Stop worrying about expensive household breakdowns

For most of us, our home is our most valuable asset. We put a lot of money down to buy it and pay a lot of money each month to keep it. Sometimes we’re stretched pretty thin financially, so when things break down it can be tough to cover the fixes.

The heating/cooling system grinds to a halt. A major appliance gives up the ghost. And why are the lights flickering — could it be the electrical panel?

What you need is a full-time maintenance person.

The next best thing? A home warranty from America’s 1st Choice Home Club. You can choose from among several coverage plans that cover issues with appliances, plumbing, heating, electrical systems and more. You can use your own technician or let America’s 1st Choice send someone over.

A breakdown happens in the middle of the night? Doesn’t matter. The in-house service team is available 24/7.

All this starting for as little as $390 a year.

Homeownership is great. But when things go wrong — and they will! — we can no longer call the landlord. We are the landlord, and we might go into debt just to keep things running smoothly.

Stop worrying about household breakdowns, and the high costs that come with them. Get a free quote in 30 seconds.

5. Get paid to watch videos and take surveys

Think of all the time you spend waiting somewhere. Waiting for the spin cycle in the laundromat. Waiting at the auto shop until the mechanic can give you an estimate. Waiting for your kid’s sports practice to be over. Waiting in an exam room for the doctor, who’s running 20 minutes late.

You could spend that time watching funny cat videos — or you could use that time to make some money. Our friends at InboxDollars can help you with the latter.

InboxDollars is a rewards site that pays you actual cash to watch videos and take surveys. Seriously: Why not use your downtime to make money?

Those aren’t the only ways to earn money with InboxDollars, however. You can also do some online shopping, click on daily emails, scan your grocery receipts into the “Magic Receipts” function, complete special offers (especially those for things you’d planned to buy anyway), play games and even help others by making donations to various causes.

From now on, get paid for waiting. It takes seconds to sign up, and you’ll get a $5 welcome bonus just for joining.

6. Find cheaper homeowners insurance in 60 seconds

Again, our homes are usually our most valuable asset. It’s essential to make sure they’re protected in the event of an emergency. But how do you know whether you’re overpaying for homeowners insurance?

Simple: You ask Lemonade for an estimate. It takes only a few seconds to find out whether you could be keeping more of your hard-earned money each month. Lemonade’s coverage starts from just $25 a month.

Homeowners insurance isn’t just about fixing things up after a fire, though. The dog bit the mailman? Lemonade can help with legal and medical payments.

A thief steals your stuff? Lemonade has your back, even if the theft happened away from home.

Your home rendered unlivable due to that fire? A homeowners insurance policy through Lemonade will cover expenses until you can get back into your home sweet home.

Why overpay with your current carrier? Find cheaper home insurance in seconds.

7. Add $1.7 million extra to your retirement

A recent Vanguard study indicated that a self-managed $500,000 investment would grow into $1.69 million in 25 years, on average. Sounds pretty good, huh?

However, with professional help, that same $500,000 would have turned into $3.4 million. In other words, a quality financial adviser could double your retirement nest egg!

At least talk to a pro, especially when finding one is free and easy. SmartAsset is a free service that will match you with a qualified money manager who can help you put your money where it will do you the most good.

Bank interest rates don’t beat inflation, so the value of your savings erodes over time. Stocks and other investments have historically beaten inflation, but a lack of knowledge and experience leaves you vulnerable to dodgy advice or financial scams.

SmartAsset will put you in touch with up to three local, experienced professionals, all of whom are fiduciaries, meaning they’re required to put your best interests over their own. They can give you a clear picture of where you are now, and help you develop the right plan for the long term.

Since the first appointment is often free, what have you got to lose? If you’re ready to at least consider a local adviser, check it out.

8. Protect your wealth with a gold IRA

Not everyone is comfortable with traditional retirement investments. Some people are opting for a “gold IRA,” which is just what it sounds like: gold, gold and more gold. This can be bullion (coins or bars) only, or also include gold stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. Gold is one of the few commodities that the Internal Revenue Service approves as an IRA investment. It’s a finite resource, rather than one that can be controlled by governments or banks.

Sound intriguing? Time to educate yourself, with help from American Hartford Gold.

This family-owned company can help you set up a gold IRA that meets all IRS standards. Chief among them: The gold must be kept at an approved depository. (No, you can’t bury it in your backyard.)

There may be less than 20 years’ worth of mineable gold remaining in the ground. As the saying goes about real estate, they ain’t making any more of it. Demand for gold is rising all over the world, especially in the electronics industry, so your IRA has a great chance to increase its value until you’re ready to retire.

American Hartford Gold has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and a 5-star rating with TrustPilot. Get your free investors kit now.

9. Diversify your portfolio with art collected by billionaires

Billionaires didn’t become billionaires by making bad investment choices. And billionaires have been collecting art for generations; for example, the Rockefellers amassed a collection that sold for an eye-popping $835 million in 2017.

But it isn’t just the ultra-rich who can invest in art by Banksy, Warhol and Picasso. With a new investing app called Masterworks, you can invest in iconic artworks as well – right alongside deep-pocketed folks like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos.

Blue-chip art outpaced the S&P 500 from 1995-2021, which is impressive considering that historic bull run we’re now witnessing. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that art is “among the hottest markets on Earth.”

Art also has one of the lowest correlations to stocks that you can find. In other words, art’s value doesn’t have anything to do with the stock market’s wild swings, which makes it a good hedge.

Masterworks is an invitation-only art investment platform. So if you want to invest like a billionaire, request your invitation to join here.

10. Borrow $50,000 to erase your debt

Ever feel like you’ll never get out from under your credit card debt? Consumer debt is way too easy to get into, yet sometimes feels impossible to escape. You pay as much as you can each month, but the high interest rate just keeps piling on the dollars.

AmOne is a free service that matches people like you with loan providers. When you fill out one simple form online, AmOne finds lenders who want to fund your loan of up to $50,000.

Once you’ve been approved and agree on the terms, it can take as little as 24 hours to get the cash. Use the money to erase all your debt at once, then pay back the personal loan at a lower interest rate than those credit cards were charging you.

The service does only a “soft” credit pull, rather than have you going directly to lenders and getting “hard” credit pulls that affect your credit score. And speaking of your credit score: You don’t need an “excellent” rating to be considered, since AmOne’s lending partners are willing to work with people of varying credit ratings.

AmOne has a 4.7-star rating (out of 5) on TrustPilot. It’s free to check your rate online, and it literally takes just one minute.

11. Pay no interest until 2023 with a better card

Another way to deal with high credit card balances? Get another credit card. Specifically, get a 0% APR card, transfer those balances and get charged no interest while you’re paying down the debt.

There’s another good reason to get a 0% APR card: to get free financing on a big-ticket item.

Suppose your HVAC system goes out or your car needs a few thousand bucks’ worth of repairs. Rather than deplete your emergency fund, pay with that new 0% APR card to give yourself some breathing room while you pay it off.

How much breathing room? Anywhere from 15 to 21 months, depending on the card you choose.

You’ll need a plan to go along with that new card: no more using the other cards with unnecessary splurges while you pay off the 0% APR card. It doesn’t make sense to run up more debt while you’re paying off old debt.

But with a 0% card, you’ll pay no interest. Think of all the interest you’d been paying, and what those dollars could have done for your long-term financial security. With a 0% APR card, you won’t have to waste any more of your hard-earned dollars on interest.

Compare these top cards and discover the best one for you.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Blockchain Consensus Algorithms: Different Types and How They Work

What Are Blockchain Consensus Algorithms?

A crypto consensus mechanism forms the foundation of any blockchain. In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin’s proof-of-work consensus algorithm to secure the Bitcoin network. Since then, several alternative consensus algorithms have been proposed.

The basic idea of achieving consensus on a blockchain is to create a way that everyone can agree that certain transactions are valid. That way, no one can cheat the system by creating fake transactions with money they don’t have, and the same funds can’t be sent twice.

Part of the reason Bitcoin was such a transformative technological innovation is that the proof-of-work method of achieving crypto consensus was the first-ever practical solution to the “double spend problem.”

With previous versions of electronic currency, one of the biggest hurdles programmers struggled to overcome was how to create a scarce digital asset that people couldn’t replicate and that couldn’t be spent more than once without everyone knowing.

Thanks in no small part to consensus algorithms, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that powers them have overcome this problem.

Recommended: Crypto 101: What is Cryptocurrency?

What Is a Consensus Mechanism?

In a system run by one central authority (say, a bank), preventing double spending is simple. One entity manages the ledger of transactions, making sure everything runs smoothly. If Alice wants to give a dollar to Bob, the central manager subtracts a dollar from Alice’s account and adds that dollar to Bob’s account. Payment rails like banks and PayPal use this type of consensus mechanism.

With cryptocurrencies, however, there is no single entity in charge of the system, because it is a decentralized network by design. That makes keeping a record of the ledger of transactions — or, establishing a consensus mechanism — more difficult.

Recommended: What Is Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)?

Consider Bitcoin, as an example. Instead of a single central server, many thousands of people around the globe run the Bitcoin software. The servers they run are called “nodes.” The nodes must somehow come to the same conclusion regarding what transactions have occurred on the network, or to “achieve consensus.” All the nodes need to be on the same page for the network to function.

How Does a Consensus Algorithm Work?

The way a crypto consensus mechanism works varies depending on the algorithm. But all have the same end goal: to achieve consensus on the network. This requires all nodes to agree on which transactions are valid and which are not. Consensus must be maintained from block to block in an orderly and secure fashion if things are to continue running smoothly.

Many of the potential cyberattacks that target blockchains involve disrupting the process of new block generation in some way. For this reason, it’s important that crypto consensus be achieved in a way that makes it difficult for bad actors to intervene.

Types of Consensus Algorithms

There have been many attempts to improve upon proof-of-work (PoW) algorithms. Proof of stake (PoS) might be the most popular of these, as many of the top cryptocurrencies by market cap today are PoS coins. Other crypto consensus methods like proof of burn or proof of capacity are less well-known and haven’t been tried as much.

Proof of Work

While there are now many different consensus algorithms, proof of work is still the most commonly used. To date, this method has shown itself to be reliable and secure.

Miners are the people who run computers that maintain the network by solving complex mathematical problems. The miner that first solves the problem gets to add the next block of transactions to the blockchain and also earns the new coins minted along with that block (the block reward). This is the process by which a verifiable history of transactions on the blockchain gets created.

PoW has shown to be a strong and secure method of achieving consensus. It would require so much computational power to overtake a large PoW network that any would-be hackers would be incentivized to become honest participants in the network instead. In other words, it’s easier and more rewarding to just mine for coins than it is to make any attempts at attacking the network.

Some of the downsides of PoW are that the process takes a lot of energy, it may not scale well, and it can trend toward centralization due to the high costs of new equipment — not everyone will be able to afford to mine. The main benefit of PoW is that it has the longest track record and has proven to be the most secure consensus algorithm. To date, there has never been a successful attempt at disrupting Bitcoin’s block production.

Proof of Stake

Proof of stake is a popular consensus mechanism that can be used by blockchains to verify their transaction history. While miners in PoW networks perform energy-intensive work to mine blocks, validators in PoS commit stakes of tokens to validate blocks.

With PoS, validators take the place of miners. They verify transactions by staking crypto on the network, which involves locking up a certain amount of coins for a set period of time, during which the coins will be unusable. Validators have a chance at being randomly selected to find the next block.

Other validators then “attest” that they also believe the block to be valid. Once enough validators have attested to a block’s validity, the block is then added to the chain. All validators involved in the process receive part of the block reward.

One of the big differences between PoS and PoW is that PoW requires miners to expend energy in the form of electricity to find blocks. PoS requires validators to stake their crypto, or in other words, to deposit money. For this reason, proof of stake is praised for being a less energy-intensive consensus mechanism than proof of work.

On the other hand, a disadvantage of PoS is that it favors the wealthiest token holders (who can stake more tokens) and trends toward centralization.

Proof of Burn

Proof-of-burn (PoB) algorithms employ the process of “burning” tokens to achieve crypto consensus. Burning coins involves sending them to an address from which they can never be recovered. Once sent to a burn address, coins are lost forever.

On a PoB network, people mine crypto by burning coins. The more coins burnt, the greater the reward.

An advantage of PoB is that it takes very little energy. A disadvantage is the question of how supply and demand will play out on such a blockchain. Burning existing coins to receive a reward of new coins seems counterintuitive. A delicate balance would have to be maintained for the system to work long-term.

What is the Bitcoin Consensus?

Bitcoin uses the proof-of-work consensus mechanism. Miners must contribute computing power and electricity to mine what remains of the 21 million bitcoins. Bitcoin mining involves processing transactions for the network, work for which miners are compensated with newly minted coins (the block reward). As of December 2021, each block rewards miners with a total of 6.25 BTC.

What is the Ethereum Consensus?

The Ethereum network also uses proof of work, although developers have been planning a move to proof of stake for some time. This change seems to be delayed each time it approaches, so there’s no telling when exactly it might happen.

The Takeaway

Consensus needs to be reached for a crypto network to know which transactions are valid. Otherwise, anyone could spend the same funds twice or make fake transactions using funds they don’t own.

While there are a number of other ways of achieving consensus, proof of work and proof of stake are the most well-known and widely used for now.

Interested in investing in crypto? With SoFi Invest®, you can trade cryptocurrency from a selection of more than two dozen coins including Bitcoin, Chainlink, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Solana, Litecoin, Cardano, and Enjin Coin.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/Eoneren


SoFi Invest®
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For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com

A Guide to MekaVerse NFTs

One of the most talked-about and hyped new non-fungible token (NFT) collections of the past year recently hit the market: The MekaVerse NFT collection.

Curious about this new NFT collection? This guide will explain what MekaVerse NFTs are, their history, and everything else you need to know.

Recap: What Is an NFT?

NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” a type of digital asset that typically takes the form of some sort of artwork. One way to think of it is that they’re much like a digital version of a baseball card.

NFTs have unique, identifiable metadata codes, meaning that they cannot be copied, and as such are one-of-a-kind. On the other hand, fungible tokens, like bitcoins, have many copies—they are all the same.

What Is MekaVerse NFT?

The MekaVerse NFT collection (which you can view here on OpenSea ) is a project that launched in October 2021, and it features 8,888 NFTs. The NFTs themselves feature a very specific artwork style, each boasting robots that are commonly known as “Mekas.” These Mekas are inspired by Gundam-style robots, which is itself a fictional Japanese anime franchise that features giant military robots called “mechas.” Each individual Meka has its own, unique story, or lore, that comes with it.

Since NFTs hit the mainstream over the past few years, the MekaVerse collection is perhaps the most-hyped collection release to date. Its Discord server has nearly 180,000 members, and it has more than 250,000 followers on Twitter .

History of MekaVerse

How does a collection of mecha NFTs become one of the most-followed digital asset drops in history? Here’s a brief rundown of the project’s history.

The two main people behind the MekaVerse project are “Matt” and “Mattey,” two European digital and graphic artists. They teamed up with Julien van Dorland, a veteran of the NFT landscape, and in late August 2021, MekaVerse opened social media and Discord accounts to the public to get a look at the NFT artwork.

From there, the hype took off. MekaVerse also started a public raffle that was held in early October, with the winners getting a chance to mint NFTs featuring either one or two Mekas. Those NFTs were then made public on OpenSea, an NFT marketplace. There was massive demand, too, as users registered nearly 173,000 wallets for the raffle.

On October 13, 2021, the complete MekaVerse NFT project was revealed . Sales for MekaVerse NFTs commenced, with sales averaging well into the thousands of dollars, and more than 5,000 individuals becoming MekaVerse NFT owners in the months since.

How Do MekaVerse NFTs Work?

The project’s collection of nearly 9,000 NFTs is designed to capitalize on the “scarcity” aspect of NFTs, and therefore, increase their value. Each individual Meka in the project is a unique, three-dimensional creation, further adding to its perceived value.

How to Buy MekaVerse NFTs

The NFT collection is open to traders, collectors, and NFT investors. It’s housed on OpenSea, which is one of the world’s largest NFT marketplaces.

To browse or buy, you can simply go to the MekaVerse NFT collection on OpenSea , and take a look at all of the NFTs that are available. The marketplace has data related to pricing, bidding, and more.

When someone becomes a holder of a MekaVerse NFT, they become a part of the Meka’s corresponding “faction,” and can then gain access to exclusive events on Twitter and Discord.

You can make an offer or buy NFTs on OpenSea, but it’ll require that you use Ethereum, or ETH, to do so. So, before you can actually make the purchase, you’ll need to create an account, get an Ethereum wallet, and attach it to your OpenSea account, so as to facilitate the transaction.

How Much Do MekaVerse NFTs Cost?

Since NFTs are commodities and traded on a marketplace, their prices are in flux. But if you’re looking for a straightforward answer as to how much MekaVerse NFTs cost, here’s one: They aren’t cheap.

As of mid-to-early December 2021, the median price for a MekaVerse NFT was more than $4,500 (although they’re priced in ETH). But some have sold for much more. Around the time the project launched, some NFTs were selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Negative Sentiment Around MekaVerse NFTs

Every project has its issues and detractors, and the MekaVerse project is no different.

For instance, there were some delays in revealing some of the NFT images, which led to some lost momentum prior to launch. But those concerns were seemingly dwarfed by allegations of fraud, which surfaced on Twitter after the project launched.

In short, some people allege that certain buyers had early access to metadata, giving them an inside look at what images would be contained in certain NFTs — information that wasn’t available to everyone. That means that some buyers could have gotten their hands on high-value NFTs at lower prices, only to see their values shoot up later on.

Finally, there’s also been some criticism of the project due to the seeming lack of uniqueness among the NFT images. Some of the images appear to simply have colors swapped, rather than be a completely different Meka.

The Takeaway

As arguably the most anticipated NFT drop to date, the MekaVerse NFT collection has become very popular, very fast. The MekaVerse team does have a roadmap in place, which includes bringing the MekaVerse into the physical world with clothing and toys. There are also plans to airdrop free NFTs to current holders, which may include “weapons” and “companions” in future online games or events.

The NFT market is still new and full of potential for creators and investors. However, before investing in cryptocurrencies, NFTs, or any other digital asset, it’s important to research and understand the market.
One way to get started investing in digital assets is with SoFi Invest®. Members can trade cryptocurrency online from a selection of dozens of coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Solana, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Cardano, and Enjin Coin.

Get started investing using SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/Space_Cat


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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Source: sofi.com

What Are Flash Loans & How Do They Work?

Flash loans are a type of loan that crypto traders may use to facilitate the buying and selling of different types of cryptocurrency on an exchange. They make use of smart contracts to issue the loans – and the trades they enable – instantly.

What Is a Flash Loan?

Flash loans are a form of uncollateralized (or, unsecured) lending some decentralized finance (DeFi) networks and protocols make available to investors.

Flash loans are loans — they involve a lender loaning money to a borrower, with the expectation that they’ll get paid back. But there are some important distinctions. Namely, flash loans utilize smart contracts, or digital agreements cemented into place on a blockchain network.

Also, flash loans encapsulate the entire transaction — from borrowing to paying back — in one single, instant transaction at any time when you’re trading crypto.

While they’re available on multiple platforms, flash loans began as through Aave , a lending platform built on and enabled by Ethereum. As of December 2021, Aave had issued more than $5 billion in flash loans, including some for hundreds of millions of dollars, too.

Recommended: Crypto Lending: Everything You Need to Know

How Do Flash Loans Work?

If you’re not a developer or have a limited technical background, here’s what you should know: Smart contracts lay out the terms of the loans, and then actually perform the trades with the borrowed funds for traders. It all happens in a flash.

From a technical perspective, a flash loan builds a contract on the blockchain that acts as a request to borrow funds. That requires some advanced knowledge — you may only be able to do it by tapping your developer knowledge and writing some code. There are also tools that can allow people to use flash loans without coding, according to Aave, such as Collateral Swap and DeFi Saver .

Essentially, flash loans are meant to be an easy, low-risk way to borrow money to try and make profitable trades in the crypto markets. If a trade is profitable, the trader pays a 0.09% fee on the gains. If it is unprofitable (or the conditions in a smart contract otherwise aren’t met), the funds go back to the lender.

Recommended: Blockchain in Finance: What Does it Mean for Fintech?

Why Do People Use Flash Loans?

When getting a traditional loan, there are a lot of hoops to jump through: You usually need collateral of some type, for one, and there’s a review of your creditworthiness and approval process. Flash loans require fewer time or resources.

By removing those obstacles and making money available cheaply and instantaneously, borrowers can take a more nimble approach to trading and investing in crypto.

Perhaps the most popular use of flash loans is to try and scalp a profit to take advantage of small arbitrage discrepancies in different types of crypto across various exchanges. Again, within the traditional lending model, there likely wouldn’t be time to take advantage of those discrepancies. But flash loans make it possible.

Recommended: How to Get a Bitcoin Loan

Pros and Cons of Flash Loans

While there are benefits to using flash loans as a crypto trader, there are also some drawbacks to this relatively new technology that it’s important to consider.

Flash Loans: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Instantaneous Still a developing product
Don’t require collateral Subject to exploitation
Designed to avoid defaults Not widely used outside crypto

Defaulting on a Flash Loan

Because of the lending mechanics, it’s almost impossible to actually default on the loan. Thanks to the magic of smart contracts, the answer, in a nutshell, is that everything essentially “resets.”

Because a smart contract will consider the transaction complete when the borrower has repaid the lender, a borrower defaulting on a flash loan means that the smart contract cancels the transaction. In effect, the transaction reverses itself, and the money would go back to the lender.

What is a Flash Loan Attack?

Flash loans are a lending mechanism, and they have their weaknesses. One such weakness is that bad actors can engage in a “flash loan attack,” which is more or less what it sounds like — an attempt to exploit the lending mechanism, potentially for profit.

Flash loan attacks can take many forms. Since a flash loan requires the loan to be repaid before the completion of the contract, a flash loan attack may find a way to change the value of the cryptos they’re trading, essentially tricking a smart contract into thinking the loan has been repaid, when it has not.

Again, this is just one relatively simple example of a flash loan attack, but in the recent past, it’s been an effective one.

Flash Loan FAQs

Here are answers to some other flash loan-related questions:

What does “flash loan” mean?

To recap, flash loans get their name because they’re executed instantaneously. They’re done “in a flash.”

Are flash loans risk-free?

No, flash loans are not risk-free. While the lending mechanism that powers a flash loan ensures that they’re difficult, if not impossible to default on, there are security issues at play (flash loan attacks.) That risk, however, mostly falls on lenders, who are the ones doling out potentially millions of dollars in unsecured loans.

What is a flash loan exploit?

A flash loan exploit is an action taken to capitalize on a loophole or shortcoming in the flash loan lending mechanism. A flash loan exploit aims to circumvent lending protocols and safety measures, and allow a bad actor to potentially trick the network into thinking they had repaid a flash loan that they, in fact, had not.

Are flash loans legal?

Yes. But things could change in the future as it’s likely that the crypto space will become more regulated.

The Takeaway

Flash loans may or may not be a part of your crypto investing strategy. You may be at a point where you’re still asking “what is cryptocurrency, exactly?” — rather than figuring out ways to borrow quick money to make money through arbitrage.

So, if you’d rather take a more straightforward approach to trading crypto, one great way to get started is with an investment account on the SoFi Invest platform. You can use it to buy and sell crypto such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Tether, and other cryptocurrencies right from your phone.

Photo credit: iStock/masterzphotois


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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Source: sofi.com

Status Money Credit Card Coming Soon – 2% Cash Back & $200 Bonus (Crypto)

Status Money is launching a credit card soon, the card earns cash back or crypto on each purchase.

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • $200 sign up bonus after $1,000 in spend within the first three months of account opening
  • Card earns 2% on all purchases

Our Verdict

Card itself seems a bit basic, most readers already have a 2% earning card. The $200 bonus is OK but not exceptional compared to other credit card bonuses.

Source: doctorofcredit.com