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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

Bitcoin Latest News

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Posted on 11 December 2017 | 3:40 am

Shorting bitcoin a challenge, prices likely to top $100000: Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Economic Times


Shorting bitcoin a challenge, prices likely to top $100000: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Economic Times
NEW DELHI: One more bullish view got added in favour of bitcoin last week. This time it came from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, an American-Lebanese academic and hedge fund manager, who believes that bitcoin can touch $1,00,000 and there is no way to properly ...

and more »

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 2:06 am

France Gives Go-Ahead for Blockchain Trading of Unlisted Securities

The French government has given the official nod for trading unlisted securities using blockchain technology.

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 2:00 am

Bitcoin Futures Surge In First Day Of Trading - NPR


NPR

Bitcoin Futures Surge In First Day Of Trading
NPR
On their first day of trading, bitcoin futures surged past $18,000, adding to a streak for the digital currency that began the year at just $1,000 and has nearly tripled in value over the past month alone. Reuters reports that bitcoin futures, traded ...
Bitcoin futures trading begins on CBOE exchange in ChicagoBBC News
Twas The Night Before Bitcoin FuturesForbes
Bitcoin futures rise as virtual currency hits Chicago Board Options ExchangeChicago Tribune
Bloomberg -The Guardian -CoinDesk
all 1,779 news articles »

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 1:09 am

Dave Chapman: Bitcoin $100000 And ETFs Are Probable - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Dave Chapman: Bitcoin $100000 And ETFs Are Probable
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Dave Chapman, managing director at Octagon Strategy, was interviewed by CNBC's Squawk Box after the futures market had opened regarding Bitcoin. His comments included a six-figure price point by the end of 2018, and more interesting use cases ...

and more »

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 12:26 am

SEC Official: Cryptocurrency Investment Funds Raise Questions

The head of the SEC's investment management office said the agency is weighing questions related to funds that plan to hold cryptocurrencies.

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 12:00 am

As bitcoin soars, warnings of a bubble proliferate - Fox News


Fox News

As bitcoin soars, warnings of a bubble proliferate
Fox News
Fratella is holding onto his bitcoin, and buying a little more from time to time. He's also buying other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum and Litecoin. He's heard the talk of a bitcoin bubble. "But I have also seen a few analysts talk about how, in ...

and more »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 10:21 pm

Can China Contain Bitcoin? - MIT Technology Review


MIT Technology Review

Can China Contain Bitcoin?
MIT Technology Review
Bitcoin, introduced by a mysterious and since vanished character named Satoshi Nakamoto, came into the world around the time of the 2008 financial crisis. The fact that it was not backed by any central authority appealed to those who distrusted ...
Why Blockchain Is Real And Bitcoin Is A MirageForbes
Bitcoin Is a New Haven From Hyperinflation for Rich Latin AmericansBitcoin News (press release)
Why Bitcoin Might Be a Bubble (but the Tech Will Last)Morningstar.com
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
all 17 news articles »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 10:02 pm

Gibraltar Bill Passage Paves Way for Blockchain Regulations

Lawmakers in Gibraltar approved a piece of legislation last week that fits into the government's broader plans for blockchain.

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 10:01 pm

Deutsche Bank: Blockchain Opportunities Are 'Huge'

A presentation by the bank's wealth management execs declared that blockchain technology has a lot of potential, but was lukewarm of cryptocurrencies.

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 8:00 pm

Bitcoin: Looking Past The Headlines And Toward The Future - Seeking Alpha


Bitcoin: Looking Past The Headlines And Toward The Future
Seeking Alpha
Bitcoin futures is an oxymoron; it makes no sense for clearing houses to facilitate derivatives in a market designed to be the most illiquid and unidirectional in history. Bitcoin is being manipulated by exchanges and Wall St., making further ...

and more »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 5:49 pm

Bitcoin Futures Launch Sees Price Spike as CBOE Website Crashes

The CBOE's website became unavailable just as it launched its first bitcoin futures contracts on Sunday.

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 5:21 pm

Bitcoin launching on futures market - PBS NewsHour


PBS NewsHour

Bitcoin launching on futures market
PBS NewsHour
When people realize that there are only 21 million bitcoins they wanted a piece of that property. To understand a bit about how it is, you can think of the tree falling in the forest thought experiment. If a tree falls in the forest and a million ...
Bitcoin Spot Price Pares Losses as Futures Trading StartsBloomberg

all 15 news articles »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 2:51 pm

Could Bitcoin's “Whales” Manipulate the Market? | Fortune - Fortune


Fortune

Could Bitcoin's “Whales” Manipulate the Market? | Fortune
Fortune
Bitcoin has captured the public imagination this year — or at least, as its price skyrocketed, tapped into public greed. But bitcoin was built by a tight-knit community of technology buffs and entrepreneurs, and a relatively small number of them own ...
Report: 1000 People Own 40 Percent of the Bitcoin MarketSlate Magazine (blog)
The Bitcoin Whales: 1000 People Who Own 40 Percent of the MarketBloomberg

all 14 news articles »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 2:24 pm

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Bitcoin Drops to $13k in Red Day for Crypto Markets

Days before a major futures product launch, bitcoin suffered heavy losses Saturday, a trend that so far appears to be continuing into Sunday.

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 9:30 pm

Lightning: The Bitcoin Scaling Tech You Really Should Know

One of the most talked about technologies in development for bitcoin is the Lightning Network. But what does it do, and when might it be ready?

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 3:45 am

The Hidden Trade-Offs of ICOs for Entrepreneurs

Utility token ICOs are not equity, but sellers may still be giving up more value than they realize if they go down that path.

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 3:00 am

U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies

USSenateBill

American Bitcoin holders may soon have to report their holding to the United States government.

First introduced on May 25, 2015, by Sen. Chuck Grassley [R-IA], Senate Bill S.1241, the
“Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017,” can have serious implications for those involved in the cryptocurrency space. The hearing for S.1241 was held with virtually no public notice on November 28, 2017; the full two-hour hearing can be viewed here.

Currently, the definition of “financial institution” includes banks, trust companies, credit unions, currency exchanges and the like. But according to Section 5312(a) of title 31, the new bill would amend the definition of “financial institution” to include “an issuer, redeemer, or cashier of prepaid access devices, digital currency, or any digital exchanger or tumbler of digital currency.” 

This is most specifically embedded in Section 13:

senatebilltextscreen.png

Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] said in her opening remarks of the hearing, “The bill criminalizes intentionally concealing ownership or control of a bank account.” Although, during the hearing, no further clarifications were given as to the effects this would have on the cryptocurrency community, based on the amended definition of “financial institution,” it would seem that the bill would criminalize anyone intentionally concealing ownership or control of a digital currency or exchange account. While there is no finalized bill yet, the implication would be that cryptocurrency holders need to fill in federal registration forms for tax disclosure, quarterly reporting and more.

Notably, while the purpose of the bill and hearing had to do with adding digital currencies and exchanges to the definition of financial institutions, there was almost no discussion on the topic other than briefly in reference to drug cartels using them to launder money. For example, nowhere in the testimony by Coinbase board of directors member Kathryn Haun Rodriguez does she mention digital currencies or exchanges, and at no time was she asked any questions about them.

Unsurprisingly, the bill is receiving pushback from some cryptocurrency holders. Activists on Reddit have started a social media campaign in opposition to the bill, and are suggesting others to tweet: “@senjudiciary that #Bitcoiners are not #Crooks Remove #DigitalCurrencies from Section 13 of S1241.” Others are contacting their senators directly.

The post U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 3:23 pm

Circle's CENTRE Raises $20 Million in SAFT Sale

Circle has raised $20 million in a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) sale for its ethereum-based "CENTRE" payments network.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 1:10 pm

New ViaBTC Exchange to Use Bitcoin Cash as Base Trading Pair

Mining pool ViaBTC is launching a new cryptocurrency exchange based in the U.K., the company announced today.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 12:25 pm

Major Gold Dealer APMEX Begins Accepting Bitcoin

One of the largest online gold dealers has announced that it will begin accepting bitcoin.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 11:15 am

Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

One of the most intriguing stories underpinning the recent rise of bitcoin prices is how financial institutions will interact with the currency.

The upcoming CBOE futures market is going to open the door for Wall Street giants to participate in the market. That could spell moon or doom for bitcoin, and everyone is speculating on what may happen next.

It is this Wall Street/BTC interaction (phenomenon) that may be driving the unbelievable price spike of the past few days — at least partially.

On the macro scale, however, we may be witnessing a more grand pattern forming; a price-correlated S-curve.

The S-curve is the classic adoption curve applied to the advent of new technologies. As a percentage of the population, adoption looks like a lag phase where the technology is utilized by the innovators of said technology, followed by an early adoption phase led by people who often take risks in order to be the first movers in a space. After the early adopter phase (~16% of the population is now participating), there comes a great “tipping point” where the wide use of the technology seems inevitable. The tipping point gives rise to the “Early Majority” joining in on the fun, followed by the late majority and, finally, the holdouts who allow the top of the S to asymptotically approach total adoption. The curve, as a factor of time and adoption, looks sort of like the following:

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.56.44_AM.png

This curve correlates nicely with adoption of some of the greatest technological innovations in our recent history:

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.57.15_AM.png

Some important things to note is that this is just U.S. adoption. Much of the world lagged behind the U.S. in the consumer appliance boom of the 1900s. All of these curves, however steep, do follow the same S-curve trend fairly nicely.

So what could that mean for bitcoin? It’s difficult to choose a metric to define bitcoin adoption, and, in fact, there are disputes about if one metric accurately captures it. However, for simplicity I’ll highlight Google searches for bitcoin and Coinbase user count as microcosms of the global adoption trend.

google search

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.58.02_AM.png(from CNBC)

This seems to show a very similar pattern to what could be the transitional phase between “innovators” and “Early Adopters.” Just to harken back to the earlier statement though — it’s very difficult to put a number on bitcoin adoption.

So why is this remarkable? Bitcoin may be the first “buyable” S-curve. Because this is a capped-supply currency, more users adopting and using it necessitates an increase in price. Whether that correlation is even reflective of the current price action is a practically unanswerable question, and the obvious leaning would be towards there being a speculative additional value. However, with an increase in adoption, there seems to be a floor rising up to catch whatever “bubble burst” might occur, if and when it happens.

I'm starting to take the controversial position that I'm less looking at a financial market chart and more looking at a graph for adoption rates. $BTC pic.twitter.com/RmGFyCdwan

— Parabolic Trav (@parabolictrav) December 3, 2017

“Eternal September” is the phrase used to describe September of 1993, when widespread internet adoption began to look inevitable. It occured after AOL began a mailing campaign offering free trials of its internet service, leading to an influx of internet users that has since never ended. Hence “Eternal September.”

Always thought it would take another bubble for the #crypto equivalent, but this might be the start of #Bitcoin Eternal September https://t.co/95PaF9ZYD7

— David Bailey (@DavidFBailey) December 6, 2017

To compare bitcoin’s adoption to its complement — the internet — this may very well be the “Eternal September” episode for bitcoin.

If the S-curve adoption theory applies to bitcoin, then buckle up. I won’t pretend to be able to predict a spot price, but I will say I think we may be sitting close to another order of magnitude this time next year.

See y’all on the moon.

Corollary: Bulls sound smart in bull markets. We may look back and laugh at this thought, or it may hold true for years to come. Time will tell. ‘Til then, buy bitcoin.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.


The post Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 11:09 am

Microlending Startups Look to Blockchain for Loans

Blockchain is now being touted as a way to revive a long-promised method of boosting financial access for the underbanked.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 7:00 am

Australian Finance Watchdog to Monitor Bitcoin Exchanges

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre has received the go-ahead to monitor bitcoin exchanges after the passing of a new bill.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 6:30 am

Bitcoin Dips Below $15k on Weak Afternoon Trading

Bitcoin was among the worst performing assets in the 6:00 UTC to 12:00 UTC trading session on Friday

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 6:00 am

Correction Coming? Bitcoin Retreats After $17k High

Bitcoin prices are taking a hit in the early U.S. session today, after a record spike to over $17,000 yesterday.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 5:00 am

Out of Steam: PC Gaming Platform Ends Bitcoin Payment Option

Out of Steam - PC Gaming Platform Ends Bitcoin Payment Option

The utility aspect of Bitcoin faced a setback yesterday as PC gamers heard from Valve Corporation’s Steam Team in a blog post that Bitcoin would no longer be accepted as payment on its digital distribution platform, Steam. Citing the volatility of the currency as well as the rising cost of fees, a representative of The Steam Team, known as “kurtis”, explained that the volatility of Bitcoin has created a problem for users trying to purchases games using the currency. Kurtis pointed out that:

The value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time so if the transaction doesn’t complete within that window of time, then the amount of Bitcoin needed to cover the transaction can change. The amount it can change has been increasing recently to a point where it can be significantly different.

Kurtis further elaborated that the normal resolution mechanism on Steam is either to refund the original payment to the user, which would negate the transaction or to ask the user to transfer additional funds to cover the remaining balance. “In both these cases, the user is hit with the Bitcoin network transaction fee again.” Bitcoin was adopted as a means of payment via  bitcoin payment processor, BitPay, for games on Steam on April 27, 2016.


Some users commenting on the blog seem to agree and support Valve’s decision, with many calling for utilization of alternative cryptos such as Vertcoin, IOTA, and Litecoin. Others, such as one user named “Kaj Jez”, stated,

Massively disappointing. The first purchase I ever made in Bitcoin was on Steam. As long as Steam doesn't accept BTC I will prefer to do business with devs' own stores that hopefully do…But as Bitcoin will undoubtedly improve itself with scalability solutions so to will Steam hopefully improve itself by rectifying this mistake and once again accepting it.

Steam, the largest digital distribution platform for PC Games, has an active user base of over 275 million users with an average of 11 games per user, according to Sergey Galyonkin’s Steam Spy API. In a Medium article, Galyonkin elaborated that 2016 sales for PC games through the Steam Platform totaled roughly $3.47 billion dollars. While it is unclear how much of that revenue resulted from bitcoin transactions during its period of acceptance, it is clear that the PC gaming community faced a major setback in utilizing Bitcoin as a means for buying games.


At the time of this writing, neither BitPay nor Steam nor Valve Corp could be reached for additional comment.

The post Out of Steam: PC Gaming Platform Ends Bitcoin Payment Option appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 7 December 2017 | 3:11 pm

New Bitcoin Mining Centers Set to Increase North American Market Position

New Bitcoin Mining Centers Set to Increase North American Market Position

While China continues to dominate the bitcoin mining market, North America has now gained another significant player who can help decentralize mining power. Hut 8 Mining Corp (Hut 8) and the Bitfury Group (Bitfury) have announced a partnership that will create North America’s largest bitcoin mining center, located primarily in Alberta, Canada.

“We are excited to partner with Hut 8 to expand our activities in the strategic North America market,” said Bitfury CEO, Valery Vavilov, in a statement. “We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to establish North America as one of the most important cryptocurrency mining hubs in the world.”

Known for manufacturing their own Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips, Bitfury is the world’s largest bitcoin mining company outside of China. Their custom hardware and software solutions eliminate the reliance on any third parties, which lowers costs and improves efficiency. Their BlockBox AC datacenter product allows for significantly shorter setup time to establish a commercial bitcoin mining center.

Hut 8 is a bitcoin mining company that will provide shareholders access to the price appreciation of bitcoin. Once the partnership is finalized, Hut 8 will control what they believe to be the largest cryptocurrency mining farm in North America: Hut 8 will gain immediate control over 22 bitcoin mining datacenters spread across Alberta.

The expectation is for Hut 8 to be listed on the Canadian stock exchange during Q1 of 2018 and increasing control over an additional 35 datacenters. Hut 8 anticipates that through a combination of existing Bitfury sites and new installations, they will scale to 60 or more datacenters during 2018.

The datacenters will be comprised of Bitfury’s containerized bitcoin mining units called Blockboxes, containing Bitfury’s 16nm ASIC chip, which they claim is one of the most efficient on the market. Bitfury will be providing the infrastructure for the partnership via the aforementioned assets and Hut 8 will own and operate the centers.

On December 4, 2017, Hut 8 is made available an approximate 13,200,000 shares on a private placement basis through GMP Securities L.P., worth approximately $25.7 million ($33 million CAD); the proceeds of which will be applied towards the initial acquisitions described above.

Also making moves in the North American mining market, Giga Watt has been promoting its own modular datacenter design called “Giga Pods.” While Giga Watt doesn’t have custom hardware solutions, they do allow for new entrants to buy and run their own hosted mining rig and potentially make money. It will be interesting to watch the development of these companies in North America over the course of 2018.

The post New Bitcoin Mining Centers Set to Increase North American Market Position appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 7 December 2017 | 2:22 pm

Quant Network Launches Overledger for Cross-Blockchain Data Interoperability

Quant Network Launches Overledger for Cross-Blockchain Data Interoperability

Last month, science and technology magazine New Scientist covered the Overledger project in a story titled, “The Blockchain to Fix All Blockchains.” The story emphasizes the need for data interoperability technology across different blockchains that could play a role similar to TCP/IP, which enabled the internet to thrive.

“[Overledger] seems to be a straightforward extension of the original atomic swap idea,” said Cornell University cryptocurrency expert Emin Gun Sirer, as reported by New Scientist. But instead of only supporting currencies as atomic swaps do, the Overledger works for any data that can be put on the blockchain.

Overledger_Graphic_v0.4.png

The Quant Overledger project is just coming out of stealth mode. In conversation with Bitcoin Magazine Gilbert Verdian, CEO and co-founder of Quant Network, confirmed that a patent for Overledger technology was filed in the first week of December.

"The uniqueness of our operating system is that Overledger is not another blockchain,” Quant Chief Strategist and Executive Director of the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technology at University College London, Paolo Tasca, told Bitcoin Magazine. “We do not impose new consensus mechanisms, new gateways, adapters or special validating nodes on top of existing blockchains. Overledger is a virtual blockchain that links existing blockchains and allows developers to build multi-chain applications (or in other terms blockchain-agnostic applications)."

According to Verdian, blockchain technology needs to enable next generation applications to function across multiple blockchains, not be limited to any single a vendor or technology and allow seamless communication across multiple blockchains as well as recognition of transactions and assets across blockchains.

As such, Quant is focussing on three goals: developing an API to connect the world’s networks to multiple blockchains; bridging existing networks (e.g financial services) to new blockchains; and developing a new Blockchain Operating System with a protocol and a platform to create next-generation, multi-chain applications.

Promoting the Blockchain ISO Standard

Verdian initiated the development of Blockchain ISO Standard TC 307, which will allow for interoperability, governance and reference architecture of blockchain technologies to work between blockchains as well as allowing blockchain networks to interoperate with existing systems and networks in use today.

Currently, there are 40 countries and organizations, such as the European Commission, working on developing the Blockchain ISO Standard, and the timeline is to have a published Standard in 2020, Verdian explained.

“Establishing blockchain standards will position ISO as a leading contributor to develop global solutions to facilitate data movement and information flows, thus enabling more efficient and timely transactions,” Verdian told Bitcoin Magazine. “There is no one blockchain standard or protocol currently in use. International standards will allow for interoperability and implementation and use of multiple blockchain-related protocols.”

“Quant Overledger will be compatible to the Blockchain ISO Standard when it is released, allowing a gateway to ‘talk’ a common language to other networks and existing systems such as financial services networks,” continued Verdian. “The entry and exit points of Overledger will be compatible to the ISO Standard, which any other technology vendor can also implement in future.”

Benefits of Interoperability

Verdian added that the widespread adoption and use of international blockchain standards could facilitate a new wave of innovation, productivity, employment and industry opportunities. For example, the growing burden of KYC compliance could be reduced through the development of international blockchain standards which utilize shared databases for undertaking business and transacting payments.

The development of international standards to support smart contracts has the potential to decrease contracting, compliance and enforcement provision costs. Similarly, the development of international blockchain standards could reduce transaction costs for SMEs when dealing with governments and businesses.

“Quant will completely change how people will be able to interact with blockchains in a way that’s not possible today,” concluded Verdian. “A good example is the recognition of a person’s identity by one entity on a blockchain will be recognized and understood by every other blockchain and every entity connected to those.”

Dapp Development

There are plans for a Quant App Store that will allow developers and startups to create multi-chain applications on top of Overledger and monetize their applications in unique ways, without having to rely on capabilities of only one blockchain.

“As a company, we’re also planning to release distributed applications on top of Quant in the areas of RegTech, FinTech and HealthTech,” Verdian told Bitcoin Magazine, adding by allowing businesses to directly interact with multiple blockchains, they will be better able to cope with the modern supply chain complexities.

In a pre-ICO (Initial Coin Offering) in January, followed by an ICO in February, Quant will sell Quant Tokens that will allow users to access the Quant network. Developers will be able to publish distributed apps on the Quant store and optionally monetize their apps by charging usage fees in Quant Tokens, for example.

Quant plans to release the first versions of Overledger in Q1 2018 and finalize the SDK and libraries in Q3 2018. This will be an open source and freely available software release that developers and enterprises will be able to use for creating next generation multi-chain applications. Then, Quant plans to release the Quant App Store at the end of 2018 for developers to publish their apps and earn Quant tokens.


Image courtesy of Quant Project 

The post Quant Network Launches Overledger for Cross-Blockchain Data Interoperability appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 7 December 2017 | 8:06 am

Regulation and the Future of Cryptocurrency at Token Summit II

Token Summit 17

On December 5th, 2017, the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco hosted cryptocurrency enthusiasts in suits, hoodies and everything in between. Token Summit II, presented by William Mougayar, author of “The Business Blockchain,” and Nick Tomaino, founder of 1confirmation, was a hub for cohesion and problem-solving in the blockchain space. Experts gathered from every corner of the industry to discuss government regulation, cryptocurrency initiatives and the future of blockchain technology.

Here are some of the highlights from the conference.

Regulation Trials and Tribulations

Nancy Wojtas, partner at Cooley; Kathryn Haun, board member at Coinbase; Stan Miroshnik, CEO and managing director at Element; and Lowell Ness, partner at Perkins Coie, demystified and further debated looming government regulation (and lack thereof).

Common questions that echoed throughout the panel: Which regulatory agency should investors focus on? Are tokens securities? Will there be new regulation or does existing regulation suffice?

Haun believes that “people in the ICO space are myopically focused on the SEC.” Although the SEC has already issued guidance and issued emergency action, there is an “alphabet soup” of other agencies that could issue further regulation. Federal and state regulatory agencies such as the DOJ could also intervene –– which could involve prison time for breaking the law.

Wojtas, on the other hand, explained her perception that because the SEC is leading the charge, other agencies are taking a backseat. She speculated that “[people] are free to continue to do what we are doing,” while being sensitive to all regulations.

The short answer from the entire panel on whether or not tokens should count as securities: the government hasn’t figured it out yet. They agreed that until the government sets a precedent in court, there is no clear answer.

A utopian scenario in terms of regulating the industry as a whole would entail new regulatory schemes that specialize in blockchain technology and tokenization. The panelists suggested that there is a low likelihood for new regulation in the United States but that investors might see clarity once there is a body of cases that grows from tokens challenging the government in court or vice versa.

Token Transparency and ICO Insights

Messari, a new transparency and disclosures project, shared their vision to become the open source data library for the universe of crypto assets –– an SEC EDGAR-like solution for consumer protection. Ryan Selkis, founder of the Messari project, summarized the crux of cryptocurrency: Quasi-fiduciaries are selling quasi-securities, and there is no gold standard for disclosure.

By creating an open data library, Messari hopes to serve all people: consumers, investors, lawyers and beyond. The team is committed to neutrality, working with regulatory standards bodies and cryptocurrency projects on a global scale to provide a free, open-source database.

Crypto Valley > Silicon Valley?

Oliver Bussmann, President of the Crypto Valley Association, utilized his panel time to entice potential cryptocurrency token founders to consider the Crypto Valley (Zug, Switzerland) as the ultimate location to launch their venture. The Valley is leveraging Switzerland’s deep-rooted culture of privacy protection, confidentiality and legal certainty to become one of the fastest-growing global ecosystems. It boasts over 500 total members and an increase of 30 members per month. It’s no surprise that Crypto Valley churns out cryptocurrencies like clockwork. The Valley has produced 10+ large scale Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) with 40+ in the process and 170+ in the pipeline.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Bussmann explained that unlike other ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs can expect to find every possible resource necessary for a successful token launch within a 30-mile radius of Crypto Valley.

“We have advisors helping with value proposition and token economy, seasoned legal experts, tax experts, accounting experts, people specialized in global marketing and global communications PR, secure ICO launch platforms, independent audit firms, smart contract audits, KYC, AML utilities and a community of investors looking to support the product.”

The Future of Cryptocurrency

Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList, shared his thoughts about the current state of cryptocurrency. In his opinion, cryptocurrency seems to be going mainstream faster than expected. He cited factors such as “savings accounts returning nothing and federal reserves returning nothing” as motivators that investors might have for entering the cryptocurrency market. He also attributed the massive increase in market capitalization to the cryptocurrencies’ ability to “absorb infinite speculative money.” However, Ravikant believes that a regulation-free grace period is still necessary for cryptocurrencies to develop properly.

When asked where he hypothesizes cryptocurrencies are in terms of bubble status, Ravikant replied that money can be a bubble that doesn’t pop and that he isn’t sure about the severity of the cryptocurrency bubble. As he explained, “If we all agree that something has value, it does.”

In regards to government regulation, Ravikant’s answer was straight to the point:

“It’s not a question of when the government will get blockchain, but how.”



The post Regulation and the Future of Cryptocurrency at Token Summit II appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 6 December 2017 | 2:34 pm

Developers Release Lightning Protocol 1.0; Perform Successful Interoperability Tests

Developers Release Lightning Protocol 1.0; Perform Successful Interoperability Tests

Blockchain developers ACINQ, Blockstream and Lightning Labs, are announcing the 1.0 release of the Lightning protocol and the world’s first Lightning test payments on the Bitcoin mainnet across all three implementations. These are considered to be important steps toward the standardization of the Lightning Network’s second-level, off-chain payment layer. The three teams, and others in the Bitcoin community, developed the Lightning specification through an open, collaborative process.

"Interoperability is key to making Lightning a success. We have worked for over a year to design a specification so that we and other developers can write implementations that talk to each other,” Elizabeth Stark, CEO of Lightning Labs, told Bitcoin Magazine. “This ensures that no matter which implementation a user is using, they will be connected to one Lightning Network.”

“It's the culmination of a year's work on the protocol specification, and the tests show that we have built a solid protocol that delivers on the promises of high scalability, increased privacy, and faster payments," Christian Decker, a Blockstream infrastructure tech engineer, told Bitcoin Magazine.

In parallel with protocol development work focused on interoperability and cross-compatibility, each of the three teams also developed specific Lightning implementations: ACINQ developed eclair, Blockstream developed c-lightning, and Lightning Labs developed lnd.

In a first test, the coffee shop Starblocks, a sample eclair application, accepted an incoming payment in bitcoin from a customer paying with the lnd Lightning app, routed through c-lightning.

In a second test, the developers made a payment from eclair to yalls.org, a sample lnd application, routed through c-lightning.

“This highlights another anticipated use case for Lightning: the ability to send instant, small value payments,” noted the three companies. The tests used nodes distributed around the world, including Asia, Europe, South America and North America.

It seems plausible that these and other interoperable Lightning Network implementations could be, one day, operational on the Bitcoin blockchain, but the developers are cautious about committing to a specific timeline.

“Our next steps are to continue testing and work as quickly as we can toward a mainnet beta, where users will be able to use small amounts on the Bitcoin mainnet,” Stark told Bitcoin Magazine.

Decker’s focus will be on the completion of the clients and individual releases “as quickly and safely as possible.” He emphasized that taking a patient approach and focusing on security is key. "We don't make any promises besides. We do not release immature software out of respect for our user's funds."

The Lightning Network is an overlay network built on top of an existing blockchain, in this case the Bitcoin blockchain. Similar to how the internet is built in layers, Lightning Network implementations create a new off-chain, high-throughput layer to channel near-instant payments. Interoperability will enable a single Lightning Network where payments are seamlessly routed without being isolated or incompatible.

Limited scalability is one of the main problems plaguing current Bitcoin technology. In fact, the current Bitcoin blockchain can only process a few transactions per second, far below the thousands of transactions per second processed by the main credit card payment networks. Therefore, following the first Bitcoin Lightning Network white paper, published in February 2015, developers have been working on Lightning Network implementations to enable bitcoin scalability, efficient micropayments and near-instant transactions.

This page on Github shows the latest integration test results for the three Lightning implementations.

“As we move towards a final 1.0 version of the specification, we invite the broader community to provide peer review and feedback,” concludes the announcement. “We look forward to continue working together to build the future of Layer 2 scalability technology.”



The post Developers Release Lightning Protocol 1.0; Perform Successful Interoperability Tests appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 6 December 2017 | 10:48 am

Bitfinex Critics Prepare for Possible Legal Action After Cryptocurrency Exchange Lawyers Up

Bitfinex Critics Prepare for Possible Legal Action After Cryptocurrency Exchange Lawyers Up

Bitfinex, the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform, has hired Steptoe & Johnson, a heavy-hitting, international law firm based in Washington, D.C., to try to put an end to what their PR firm calls “a campaign of mistruth.”

According to an earlier statement issued by Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W, the PR company representing the exchange, Bitfinex is “signaling to those who engage in this activity that they are serious about protecting the truth and their business.”

Steptoe & Johnson is known for its work in the digital currency space. The firm leads the Blockchain Alliance, a coalition of blockchain companies and U.S. and international law enforcement agencies around the world.

Although Bitfinex did not spell out exactly whom it was threatening to take legal action against, the announcement comes at a time when blogger Bitfinex’ed has been persistently denouncing the company in a series of detailed Medium posts and ongoing tweets. Other critics have been taking their swings at Bitfinex as well.

“To date, every claim made by these bad actors has been patently false and made simply to agitate the cryptocurrency ecosystem,” Stuart Hoegner, in-house counsel for Bitfinex, said in the announcement. “As a result, Bitfinex has decided to assert all of its legal rights and remedies against these agitators and their associates.”

The Backstory

Bitfinex, incorporated in the Virgin Islands, is closely tied to cryptocurrency company Tether, based in Hong Kong. Both companies are owned and operated by the same individuals, as revealed in recently leaked documents.

Tether issues a token (USDT) that is pegged, or tethered, to the U.S. dollar. Essentially, one USDT is supposed to represent one dollar. By trading their bitcoin or other cryptocurrency for USDT, traders can essentially park their funds in a stable asset to preserve capital. In that sense, Tether works something like a money market account. Tether also allows traders to move their money between exchanges without going through a bank.

Bitfinex does not support bitcoin-to-fiat trading or withdrawals, so if traders on Bitfinex want to sell their bitcoin for fiat, they would have to transfer their bitcoin to a regulated exchange like U.S.-based Coinbase, which links to users’ bank accounts, allowing them to make direct fiat deposits and withdrawals.

In August 2016, Bitfinex was hacked, losing 120,000 BTC, worth roughly $72 million at the time. Rather than declare bankruptcy, the exchange came up with a three-part strategy. First, it spread the loss out evenly among all its customers, giving everyone a 36 percent haircut and then issuing “BFX tokens” as I.O.U.’s to be redeemed at a later date.

Next, in mid-October, Bitfinex offered to allow its customer to convert their BFX tokens to equity in iFinex, the parent company that operates Bitfinex. As a result, roughly a third of all BFX tokens were converted. Finally, in April 2017, Bitfinex bought back all of the remaining BFX tokens and announced it was clear of debt.

Allegations and Concerns

At issue right now is the fact that more than 800 million USDT are in circulation, but so far, Tether has not shown any real proof that it has the money to back up those tokens.

Bitfinex’ed claims Bitfinex/Tether is creating that money out of thin air. He also claims Bitfinex is manipulating the markets through techniques such as spoofing — where a trader puts in a large bid or ask order to make the price of bitcoin go up or down before canceling the order — and wash trading, where an asset is bought and sold simultaneously to give the impression it is in more demand than it actually is.  

He also argues Bitfinex is operating a Ponzi scheme, paying back its debt through accounting tricks, to avoid becoming insolvent after it was hacked in August 2016.

But while Bitfinex is trying to protect its image by threatening legal actions against its critics, Stephen Palley, an attorney at Anderson Kill in Washington, D.C., who focuses on software development, thinks Bitfinex would do better by simply being more transparent.

“Why don’t they just open their books?,” he told Bitcoin Magazine. “What are they afraid of? They are going to have to do that in discovery and litigation anyhow.”

To win in court, Bitfinex would have to prove that the blogger was making claims that were false and unsubstantiated, which would require them to come clean themselves.

It looks to me like they are using heavy-handed intimidation tactics to shut down someone they claim is inconsequential,” said Palley.

Bitfinex’ed recently tweeted his bitcoin wallet address and said he is seeking donations to defend himself against possible upcoming litigation. One person has already donated 1 BTC (currently worth $11,500).

“This is bloody bananas,” Bitfinex’ed told Bitcoin Magazine, in response to the hiring of Steptoe.

The blogger cited a previous lawsuit filed by Bitfinex, which he claims the exchange had no plans of following through on. In April 2017, Bitfinex filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo for suspending its U.S. dollar wire transfers. That suit was withdrawn a week later.

“Best to be prepared,” Bitfinex’ed said. “If this is [a] big bluff on their end then money goes to charity, I can't hold the bitcoins while whistleblowing.”

The post Bitfinex Critics Prepare for Possible Legal Action After Cryptocurrency Exchange Lawyers Up appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 5 December 2017 | 2:09 pm

China Turns Bitcoin Focus Inward

BitBank


The Chinese government has often had a tumultuous relationship with Bitcoin, but things came to a head in 2017. By the end of the year, there was no longer a Chinese industry exchanging bitcoin for fiat currency. How did that happen, and where does China go from here?


From his office in Shenzhen, Virgilio Lizardo, Jr. has watched the waning of China’s influence on bitcoin pricing with interest. As Vice President of International Affairs at Bitbank Group, he sees cryptocurrency trends and pricing daily. The group’s businesses include China’s former fourth largest Bitcoin exchange CHBTC, alongside BW Mining, which manufactures miners and runs its own pool. With its Bitbank Bitcoin bank and crowdfunding business, the group is well-acquainted with all parts of the cryptocurrency’s ecosystem.


First warnings


Fissures in China’s relationship with Bitcoin appeared in January, when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) warned citizens about the risk of trading in bitcoin, and then investigated three exchanges: OKCoin, Huobi, and BTCC. The investigation led to a temporary freeze on margin trading, traditionally used as a means of capitalizing on short-term price changes.


Some exchanges subsequently re-introduced margin trading with limits on the available leverage, but the damage was done.


“In China, you could get into bitcoin and leverage by 10x, 20x, 100x – even up to 250x,” recalled Lizardo. “That ended overnight.”


International traders who were still interested in the Chinese market suffered another blow in early February, when the three exchanges froze bitcoin withdrawals altogether, locking up bitcoins for four months.


Enter Japan


This volatile policy shifted the focus of Chinese exchanges from the international to the domestic market. In the meantime, Japan gained dominance, passing legislation legitimizing bitcoin as a payment currency and increasing its price.


By the time the exchanges re-opened withdrawals, market focus had shifted. “By this time, Japan already cemented its position as the leading market for bitcoin trading, because a lot of international traders just didn't feel confident about Chinese exchanges,” Lizardo said.


That lack of confidence was well-founded. In September, the Chinese government once again cracked down on a key aspect of the cryptocurrency market, this time banning initial coin offerings (ICOs) (see original announcement here). These financial events allow the public to buy cryptocurrency tokens. The tokens give them a stake in new software applications that run on blockchain technology.


ICO bans and voluntary closures


“In the summer China was probably the number one market for ICOs,” said Lizardo. “There were a lot of scammy, fraudulent ICOs happening that caught the attention of the authorities.”


From there, the conversation escalated quickly, resulting in Chinese exchanges voluntarily closing down their Yuan-BTC trading services. BTC China and Via BTC both said that they would halt trading, as did OKCoin and Huobi, and BTCC. Some exchanges have since mulled moving operations overseas, or restricting activities purely to non-fiat cryptocurrency trading.


The exchange closures led to plummeting bitcoin prices, which slipped from a high of US$4884 on Sept 4 to US$3312 on Sept 17. But after that, bitcoin’s price rise has been astronomical. It was nudging US$9800 at the time of writing.


The rebound punctuates China’s decreasing influence over the last year, said Lizardo.


“It was a combination of the momentum built up by nation states – particularly Japan – legitimizing the currency, and traders realizing that the influence of China on the price of bitcoin is coming to an end.” There are other markets ready to absorb China’s bitcoin trading volumes, he added.


Refocusing on domestic trading


There are still plenty of options for Chinese bitcoin traders, though, as the market focuses inward and moves to over the counter (OTC) trading.


“When exchanges were locked out of the picture, all the volume and trading in that network went into over-the-counter (OTC),” he said.


He noted that following the crisis earlier in the year, the user base for BitKan, the leading OTC bitcoin app in China, increased fifteen-fold.


Bitkan, which has since closed, connected users initially, but then enabled them to exchange their own messaging information and begin transacting directly.


“In China the mobile ecosystem is beyond anything in the world. It’s easy to transfer fiat to each other using just a messaging app,” he pointed out. Based on BitKan’s user numbers, the real volume of OTC bitcoin trades in China today is probably huge, but it’s also almost entirely invisible.


“Informally, every OTC trader in China is doing spectacularly well right now,” Lizardo Jr concluded. “The market is so huge that each trader can have their own network and it won’t overlap with another OTC network, and that doesn’t even count international OTC relations,” he said.


While the market has refocused internally for the time being, Lizardo said that the government has “left itself some wiggle room” if it wants to re-establish a trading environment between Bitcoin and fiat markets in the future.


“Blockchain technology and Bitcoin are marching on at their fastest pace ever,” he said, adding that there is always an option to reopen the markets. “With Japan and others moving forward more positively, I don't think that China will stay on the sidelines forever.”


The post China Turns Bitcoin Focus Inward appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 1 December 2017 | 9:52 am

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

Posted on 29 November 2017 | 2:30 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 am

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

December 11, 2017 -
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