The Sun

Rise, fall and suspense – bitcoin’s wild first decade

LONDON: From its birth in an anonymous, academic style paper to one of the world's most volatile and closely watched financial instruments, bitcoin has lived through a tumultuous first 10 years.

Here is a look back at some of the trials and tribulations of the world's most popular virtual currency as it stands on the brink of either mass market acceptance – or early retirement.

Bitcoin 'Bible'

Published on Oct 31, 2008 by a person or group writing under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the currency was introduced to an unsuspecting world in a nine-page paper called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”.

Nakamoto's objective: to create a system that can send payments “directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution”.

It was, in effect, a master plan for a global currency that could not be controlled by any central bank and could be accessed by anyone.

'Genesis block'

The first 50 bitcoins were born at 1815 GMT on Jan 3, 2009. These were bunched into a single unit called a block, the first of which was appropriately called the “genesis block”.

From then on, every new block was attached to the one that came before it, creating what is today commonly known as a block chain.

The first transaction between two accounts occurred nine days later, when Satoshi Nakamoto sent 10 bitcoins to computer scientist Hal Finney as a test.

0.00076 dollars

Bitcoin's first value was deduced on Oct 5, 2009 from its cost of production.

At the time, the best way to get bitcoins was to “mine” them – essentially, use computers to solve difficult puzzles that release bitcoins from a block.

The electricity costs – these operations involve massive banks of interconnected processors – were offset by bitcoin's real-world value.

The puzzles get more difficult with the rise in the number of users, making their mining progressively more expensive.

US$30 million pizza

On May 22, 2010, a virtual currency developer in Florida named Laszlo Hanyecz got a pizza delivery man to accept 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas. It was the first known bitcoin payment, worth about US$41 at the time. Today, each of those pizzas would be worth in excess of US$30 million (RM125 million) in bitcoin.

May 22 is now known as “Bitcoin Pizza Day”.

Nakomoto's vanishing act

Nakamoto announced his, her or their withdrawal from the project on Dec 12, 2010, ceasing all bitcoin operations four months later.

The identity and number of bitcoins owned by Nakamoto has remained a mystery since.

Nakamoto briefly reappeared in an internet chat room in 2014, denying a Newsweek magazine article that claimed to unmask the creator's identity.

Bankruptcy protection

After malfunctioning for over two weeks, the main bitcoin exchange – based in Tokyo and known as Mt Gox – filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2014.

Accounting for nearly 80% of all bitcoin operations, the exchange said it had been hacked, losing some US$477 million in crypto currencies.

Its former chief, a Frenchman name Mark Karpeles, is still facing legal proceedings in Tokyo, where he was briefly placed under arrest. Karpeles has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement and data manipulation charges.

Breakthrough

Last year was a mercurial one for bitcoin, with the currency hitting glboal headlines after soaring in value from less than US$1,000 in January to US$19,511 on Dec 18 – its all-time high, according to Bloomberg data.

The virtual bubble burst in the subsequent days, with bitcoin's value fluctuating wildly over the course of the following weeks.

It is now worth about a third of its record value and is experiencing much more modest trade volumes and price swings, which analysts see as either a sign of maturity or the beginning of bitcoin's end.

Suspense

Bitcoin hopes its next breakthrough will come with approval by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of its own exchange-traded fund (ETF) – a security similar to a stock that would track bitcoin's value.

ETFs are one of the most popular trading mechanisms and the SEC's green light would give bitcoin a massive boost, securing both its short-term future and reputation among giant investment funds.

The SEC is currently reviewing several applications. It has balked so far, expressing concern about the risk of fraud. – AFP

23/10/2018

Persistent selling in heavyweights drags Bursa Malaysia lower

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia ended lower today on persistent selling in selected heavyweights amid bearish sentiment surrounding regional stock markets.

The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) declined 24.87 points to end at its intraday low of 1,697.6, from yesterday's close of 1,722.47

After opening 0.97 of-a-point lower at 1,721.5, the FBM KLCI also touched a high of 1,721.91.

A dealer said the weak market sentiment in the region was partly due to worries about the US-China trade conflict, how it could impact on China's economic growth, as well as concerns on whether the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates faster and higher than expected.

“The jitters in the external market have spilled over into Bursa Malaysia,” he added.

On the technical front, Kenanga Research said the outlook for the FBM KLCI remained bearish and momentum indicators had yet to show any possible sign of a bullish run.

In a note, the research firm said support could be spotted at 1,700 and 1,660, with key levels of resistance at 1,790 and 1,760 should market sentiment improve.

Among Bursa Malaysia's heavyweights, Maybank fell 20 sen to RM9.40, Public Bank lost eight sen to RM24.90, Tenaga declined 42 sen to RM14.08 and Petronas Chemicals was four sen lower at RM9.34.

As for actives, Prestariang gained 1.5 sen to 45.5 sen, Sapura Energy eased half-a-sen to 34 sen and MYEG was 10 sen weaker at RM1.28.

Market breadth was negative with losers overwhelming gainers 727 to 170, with 330 counters unchanged, 677 untraded and 29 others suspended.

Volume was higher at 2.01 billion units valued at RM2 billion from 1.95 billion units valued at RM1.67 billion recorded yesterday.

Regionally, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 2.67% to 22,010.78, Hang Seng Index dipped 3.08% to 25,346.55 while the Shanghai Composite Index slid 2.26% to 2,594.83.

The FBM Emas Index slipped 163.92 points to 11,740.22, the FBM Emas Shariah Index declined 155.68 points to 11,707.74 and the FBMT 100 Index decreased 158.40 points to 11,574.76.

The FBM Ace Index lost 112.09 points to 4,959.51 and the FBM 70 dwindled 141.85 points to 13,550.57.

Sector-wise, the Plantation Index was 32.69 points weaker at 7,370.7, the Industrial Products and Services Index eased 1.59 points to 170.29 and the Financial Services Index fell 230.26 points to 17,266.28.

Main Market volume fell to 1.25 billion shares worth RM1.83 billion from 1.33 billion shares worth RM1.53 billion on Monday.

Warrants turnover rose to 479.28 million units valued at RM113.04 million from 404.03 million units valued at RM98.64 million.

Volume on the ACE Market increased to 284.16 million shares worth RM58.4 million from 213.16 million shares worth RM40.76 million previously.

Consumer products and services accounted for 147.62 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products and services (221.22 million), construction (100.6 million), technology (247.74 million), SPAC (1.04 million), financial services (42.48 million), property (100.37 million), plantations (15.97 million), REITs (4.37 million), closed/fund (1,200), energy (237.77 million), healthcare (26.16 million), telecommunication and media (47.33 million), transportation and logistics (26.9 million) and utilities (31.29 million). — Bernama

23/10/2018

Media Prima to provide content for Europe’s Dailymotion video streaming service

KUALA LUMPUR: Media Prima Bhd has inked a memorandum understanding (MoU) with Dailymotion, which will see the media group's video content being made available on the platform.

When asked if there are concerns over piracy and copyright, CEO of Media Prima Televisions Networks, Johan Ishak told reporters that the group currently works with authorities such as the Home Ministry and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry to tackle the issue.

Additionally, it also has an internal unit to look after IPs for content from all its platforms.

“Whenever we find any incidences of piracy…we will get authorities to help us shut it down,” he added.

According to Dailymotion's Vice President of Content in Asia Pacific, Antoine Nazaret the necessary tools and technology are in place to ensure that media content uploaded to its platform are protected.

“The tools are at scale so you can address as much challenges as you can..millions if we need. We know that we can scale at that size to make sure that it is protected not only here but if the content is used in a wrong way elsewhere in the world, we(will) know that it was there,” explained Nazaret.

The platform is owned by Paris based multinational company, Vivendi.

Dailymotion will also be powering Media Prima's Tonton over-the-top (OTT) service platform.

As for Tonton, which ceased video-on-demand subscription on Aug 31, 2018, Johan said the group may relook the possibility of re-implementing subscription services in the future when there is enough demand for paid content.

23/10/2018

KL shares lower on external development woes

KUALA LUMPUR: Share prices on Bursa Malaysia opened lower and slipped further thereafter this morning as buying sentiment was pressured by unfavourable external developments.

At 9.10 am, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) was 3.18 points lower at 1,719.29 from yesterday's close of 1,722.47.

The index opened 0.97 of-a-point lower at 1,721.5.

In a note, PublicInvest Research said among external concerns affecting the FBM KLCI was the weaker overnight performance on Wall Street.

“In the US, energy stocks were among the worst performers in the S&P 500 as Brent oil struggled to regain the US$80-a-barrel mark after Saudi Arabia said it was likely to increase crude output.

“Furthermore, a broadly disappointing round of US corporate earnings added to the cautious mood,” it added.

On the broader market, losers led gainers 127 to 78 with 143 unchanged, 1,556 counters untraded and 29 others were suspended.

Volume stood at 94.1 million units valued at RM53.38 million.

Among heavyweights in Bursa Malaysia, Maybank eased seven sen to RM9.53, Tenaga fell eight sen to RM14.42, while Public Bank and Petronas Chemicals were flat at RM24.98 and RM9.38, respectively.

For actives, Pesona Metro fell half-a-sen to 27 sen, Prestariang rose 3.5 sen to 47.5 sen and MYEG was one sen weaker at RM1.37.

The FBM Emas Shariah Index decreased 11.71 points to 11,851.72, the FBM Ace Index decreased 0.21 of-a-point to 5,071.39 and the FBM 70 was down 12.74 points at 13,679.68.

The FBM Emas Index declined 19.77 points to 11,884.37 and the FBMT 100 Index lost 19.21 points to 11,713.95.

Sector-wise, the Plantation Index added 6.61 points to 7,410, the Industrial Products and Services Index was 0.04 of-a-point weaker at 171.84 and the Financial Services Index fell 54.63 points to 17,441.9.

The physical price of gold as at 9.30am stood at RM158.34 per gramme, up 12 sen from RM158.22 at 5.00pm yesterday. — Bernama

22/10/2018

Property prices continue to fall, down 2.5% year on year in Q3: PropertyGuru

KUALA LUMPUR: Asking prices of homes in Malaysia continue to drop nationwide, according to the PropertyGuru Market Index (PMI), which revealed that asking prices by real estate developers and individual owners nationwide declined 2.5% year on year in the third quarter of 2018 (Q3 2018), or a 1.8% decline from the preceding quarter.

The PMI report is derived from PropertyGuru's proprietary data, which includes the asking prices of over 250,000 residential property listings on PropertyGuru.com.my. The PMI is a comprehensive, quarterly overview of home pricing trends at national level, as well as the key property markets of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang. The index also considers supply volume of properties from both primary and resale markets.

The downward trend is reflected in both quarterly and annual price movements despite improved consumer sentiment of 42% and 53% of Malaysians respectively, wishing to buy a home by the end of 2018, it said.

Notably, amid oversupply of properties and new market supply, properties in certain market segments and certain locations are coming under increased pressure with sellers continuing to discount prices to secure buyers.

“Others may be opting to sell as rental rates also come under pressure due to the ample choice available in key areas. With more supply, one can drop rental rates but if that is not feasible, the usual option is to sell to unlock the gains,” PropertyGuru Malaysia country manager Sheldon Fernandez said in a statement.

Additionally, the present downward price trend may not be due to sellers reducing prices, but also in overall value provided to reduce ownership cost.

“Beyond absolute pricing, there are other factors also such as developers throwing in freebies such as furnishing and décor, carparks, or even rebates. Cumulatively, these incentives, reduce the overall cost of ownership which will have a knockdown effect on prices,” added Fernandez.

Similar to the national trend, all key property epicentres in Q3 2018, recorded a quarterly decrease.

Kuala Lumpur saw the largest drop of 3.2% from the previous quarter, followed by Johor at 3.3%, Selangor at 1.8% and Penang at 1.3%. Johor has been on an upward trend experiencing an upward capital appreciation in the market from Q4 2016 till Q2 2018 until a slight year-on-year dip of 2.3% was recorded in Q3 2018.

On an annual basis, Selangor recorded the highest yearly decrement with 2.4%, followed by Johor at 2.3%, Penang at 0.7% and Kuala Lumpur at 0.5%. With the exception of Johor, all regional markets continue to show a discount to their 2015 base prices. Johor continues to maintain an upwards trend-line, but it remains to be seen if the trend will persist going into Q4 2018 and 2019.

While Fernandez cited that 2018 remains largely a buyer's market for property, he also cautioned against thinking that this applies to all properties being sold in all areas. He mentioned that even locations that may presently experience a price drop, may rebound after completion of the MRT2 or the LRT3 rail lines or other infrastructure projects.

“While the sentiments of Malaysians towards the property market have improved considerably, it appears that asking prices have yet to catch up with this improving sentiment. But the market usually corrects itself going forward. For now, the continued price correction is good for the market in the long-term. Moving forward, we will monitor how property prices perform due to the impact of SST exemption on properties. We can all look forward to our next PMI report release for Q4 2018,” he said.

22/10/2018

Bonia’s subsidiary CRG Inc to be listed on LEAP Market by end of November

PETALING JAYA: Bonia Corp Bhd's wholly owned subsidiary CRG Incorporated Bhd, which is the design, marketing and distribution company for Carlo Rino and CR2 brands, is expected to be listed on the LEAP Market of Bursa Malaysia Securities by end of November.

Outlining its plans in the information memorandum released today, CRG said it aims to increase its geographical footprint in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. This includes developing a strong online presence for its Carlo Rino brand in Southeast Asia over the next five years, to tap into the e-commerce market in the region which is expected to grow to US$29.4 billion (RM122.2 billion) in sales by 2020.

It has also granted Kafak the exclusive rights to use the Carlo Rino brand, as well as operate and manage boutiques carrying the Carlo Rino range in the Middle East for five years, with a five-year renewable period.

“Through this distributorship arrangement, we intend to expand our retail presence to other countries in the Middle East, including the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain,” it said.

In terms of expanding its product range, CRG said it is in the midst of undertaking research on the market for accessories and fashion-related collections, with the aim of launching various accessory product ranges over the next five years.

Its products are generally targeted at young working adults between 18 and 35 years old.

CRG's principal markets are Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. In Malaysia, it has 39 boutiques and outlets, and 120 department store counters. It also has authorised distributors/dealers in Vietnam, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Brunei.

According to an information memorandum by the approved adviser and continuing adviser, TA Securities Holdings Bhd, the distribution of CRG shares to entitled shareholders and cash payout, to entitled shareholders who hold less than 100 Bonia shares, is expected to take place in mid-November.

The demerger of CRG involves a series of transactions namely capitalisation, subdivision, conversion and dividend-in-specie. The capitalisation, subdivision and conversion have been completed as of Aug 13.

Bonia will distribute via a dividend-in-specie, its entire shareholding in CRG and rights to CRG shares, to the entitled shareholders on the basis of one CRG share for every one Bonia share, upon receipt of approval-in-principle from Bursa Malaysia Securities for the listing.

The completion of the dividend-in-specie will result in the demerger of CRG from Bonia, and the entitled shareholders will directly hold shares in the same proportion as their shareholdings in Bonia, except for those who hold less than one board lot of Bonia shares, who will be paid cash in lieu of the number of shares they are entitled to.

22/10/2018

Uber to appeal against Singapore regulator’s decision on deal with rival Grab

SINGAPORE: Uber Technologies Inc has decided to appeal against a decision by the Singapore competition regulator that its merger with regional rival Grab violated the city-state's competition laws, the firm said today.

Last month, Singapore slapped ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber with fines and imposed restrictions on their businesses to open up the market to competitors, after concluding that their merger had driven up prices. It fined Grab S$6.42 million (RM19.35 million) million) and Uber S$6.58 million (RM19.84 million).

Uber said it was making the appeal independently of Grab, as a matter of principle. Separately, Grab said it would not appeal against the regulator's decision.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore's ruling that the transaction led to a substantial lessening of competition, and that Uber had intentionally breached the law, was “unsupported and incorrect”, Uber said in a statement.

Uber asked the CCCS to annul its fine, and said the regulator had used a very narrow definition of the ride-hailing market. It also pointed to Go-Jek's impending entry into the city-state, saying the Indonesian ride-hailing company would make for a formidable competitor.

Uber disputed the CCCS' allegation that Uber knew that the transaction infringed the law but nevertheless moved ahead.

“To the contrary, our view has always been that in a properly defined market – including at the very least
ride-sharing, street-hail taxis and new entrants – the
transaction respects the law and does not raise significant concerns,” it said.

Uber sold its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional
rival Grab in March in exchange for a 27.5% stake in the Singapore-based firm. But the deal invited regulatory scrutiny.

Last week, the Philippines' competition watchdog also fined the two firms, saying they consummated their merger too soon and that the quality of service had suffered.

“I do not expect that this decision or definition of the market used in Singapore by CCCS would significantly affect Uber elsewhere,” said Walter Theseira, an economics professor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

He said, however, that Uber may have an interest in conducting an economic analysis of the definition of the market to inform and contest similar cases elsewhere. – Reuters

22/10/2018

FMM to work closely with govt

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) in congratulating the government on tabling a comprehensive and pragmatic mid-term review plan last week, hopes that proposals to increase government revenue as part of fiscal consolidation would not lead to additional and unnecessary regulatory burden to the manufacturing sector.

“The priority should be to support and promote expansion of the economic pie to enable the reaping of higher returns to enhance business sustainability, and more importantly, medium and long-term growth,” it said in a statement today.

FMM cited existing tax incentives, such as the reinvestment allowance, accelerated capital allowance, double deduction incentives for research and development, export growth, enhancements to facilitate and spur the manufacturing sector to quickly undertake upgrading, expansion and diversification activities, including investing in Industry 4.0 technologies and innovation to achieve higher productivity and value-add.

The organisation also looks forward to close consultation with the government on its progressive and comprehensive multi-tiered levy system mechanisms to empower human capital development.

“We hope to see critical market-based levers namely, simple and transparent criteria; planned and pre-announced changes, especially in levy rates; removal of discretionary approvals, bureaucracy inconsistencies in policy implementation as well as rent seeking activities; and incentives to reward businesses which have reduced their dependence on foreign workers and unskilled labour. Levy collected should also be ploughed back to help finance industry’s investments in automation and productivity enhancements,” FMM said.

Overall, FMM looks forward to close and regular engagement with the government on the relevant programmes and initiatives under the 19 priority areas and 66 strategies of the six policy pillars. We are optimistic that these economic targets and aspirations would be executed and achievable through close collaboration and consultation between the government and the business sector, in particular the manufacturing sector for better fit of policies in meeting the challenging demands of competition and technological advancements.

Commenting on the government’s target of 4.5-5.5% gross domestic product growth over the 2018-2020 period, FMM said it was most reassured that the government is steadfast in pursuing growth targets despite the impact of fiscal and governance reforms on short-term economic growth.

FMM reiterated its commitment to working closely with the government in helping to meet the economic targets.

22/10/2018

FMM hopes govt move to boost coffers won’t add to burden

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) in congratulating the government on tabling a comprehensive and pragmatic mid-term review plan last week, hopes that proposals to increase government revenue as part of fiscal consolidation would not lead to additional and unnecessary regulatory burden to the manufacturing sector.

“The priority should be to support and promote expansion of the economic pie to enable the reaping of higher returns to enhance business sustainability, and more importantly, medium and long-term growth,” it said in a statement today.

FMM cited existing tax incentives, such as the reinvestment allowance, accelerated capital allowance, double deduction incentives for research and development, export growth, enhancements to facilitate and spur the manufacturing sector to quickly undertake upgrading, expansion and diversification activities, including investing in Industry 4.0 technologies and innovation to achieve higher productivity and value-add.

The organisation also looks forward to close consultation with the government on its progressive and comprehensive multi-tiered levy system mechanisms to empower human capital development.

“We hope to see critical market-based levers namely, simple and transparent criteria; planned and pre-announced changes, especially in levy rates; removal of discretionary approvals, bureaucracy inconsistencies in policy implementation as well as rent seeking activities; and incentives to reward businesses which have reduced their dependence on foreign workers and unskilled labour. Levy collected should also be ploughed back to help finance industry’s investments in automation and productivity enhancements,” FMM said.

Overall, FMM looks forward to close and regular engagement with the government on the relevant programmes and initiatives under the 19 priority areas and 66 strategies of the six policy pillars. We are optimistic that these economic targets and aspirations would be executed and achievable through close collaboration and consultation between the government and the business sector, in particular the manufacturing sector for better fit of policies in meeting the challenging demands of competition and technological advancements.

Commenting on the government’s target of 4.5-5.5% gross domestic product growth over the 2018-2020 period, FMM said it was most reassured that the government is steadfast in pursuing growth targets despite the impact of fiscal and governance reforms on short-term economic growth.

FMM reiterated its commitment to working closely with the government in helping to meet the economic targets.